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AT&T is experimenting with Wi-Fi hotzones - a group of access points that together provide one large coverage area. It is starting with Times Square in Manhattan, just North of where 7th Avenue and Broadway intersect between 45th and 47th Streets. This is a great approach to solving its network issues. AT&T is deploying faster HSPA/HSPA+ speeds now, will launch their LTE network in late 2011 and 2012, and are looking into expanding their use of Wi-Fi. AT&T already has a lot of Wi-Fi hotspots on which many AT&T devices can automatically connect to, but these are primarily indoors. This hotzone is outdoors in an area with heavy pedestrian traffic. If implemented correctly, this will alleviate a lot of data traffic from the cellular network, as well as a lot of the extra signaling that goes with it. If this test is successful, AT&T will expand this to other areas as well. This is definitely a good move - leveraging the best network possible at any given time or location makes the most sense. As traffic increases, mobile operators will want to push cellular data traffic over to other types of networks that can better handle the capacity. With Wi-Fi attach rates rapidly increasing in smartphones, Wi-Fi hotspots and hotzones are a great way to offload traffic and provide better speeds to end users.

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