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AT&T plans to double wireless broadband speeds by 2011

AT&T announced Wednesday that it will deploy faster 3G speeds this year for an eventual move to LTE in 2011.

AT&T announced Wednesday plans to double the speed of its wireless broadband network by 2011. The move to HSPA technology, and eventually LTE networks, will begin later this year.

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson outlined the carrier's plans at the D: All Things Digital conference in Carlsbad, Calif. "We are going to go ahead and deploy some rather aggressive wireless broadband," Stephenson said.

HSPA, which stand for High Speed Packet Access, is the next evolution in the carrier's 3G wireless broadband network. Though it promises peak data speeds of 7.2Mbps, slower speeds will be more likely in real-world use. AT&T's current UMTS (Universal Mobile Telecommunications System) network tops out at 3.6Mpbs.

The nation's second largest carrier also announced that the move to HSPA will allow it to begin testing its LTE technology for an initial deployment in 2011. LTE (Long-Term Evolution), which Verizon has also adopted, is a 4G technology that promises peak download speeds of at least 50Mbps.

The upgrade to HSPA is one of a series of initiatives that AT&T unveiled this week. The carrier also plans to expand coverage of the GSM 850 band, deploy 2,100 new cell sites across the country, and add 20 new 3G markets for a total of 370. What's more, the carrier promised to increase Wi-Fi coverage so that smartphone and laptop cards will be able to switch seamlessly between Wi-Fi and the cellular network.