AT&T to Throw $1 Billion at Its Network (And You Thought the iPad Was Expensive!) [Update]

In a typically dense press release, AT&T announced that it is investing $1 billion in its infrastructure this year. The head office's largesse will benefit nearly every aspect of the company's network, from cloud computing and undersea cabling, to its mobile platforms and expansion into foreign territories. But the reasons for AT&T's spending spree come down to one of two things: the constant barbs about its sucky coverage, or fear that it's going to lose the iPhone's exclusivity.

Its exclusive contract with Apple is due to end this year and, although there's no word on whether other carriers will be allowed to even touch the beast, there have been some pretty persistent rumors thata Verizon will be getting its very own CDMA version of the iPhone. AT&T has, however, got its paws on a couple of Android handsets, including the Nexus One and, with a pair of Palms on the way, you could be forgiven for thinking it is shoring up its smartphone stable in the event of Apple deciding to spread its iPhone love.

Regardless of who Apple decides to dance with, consumption of mobile data is set to hit around 327 petabytes per month by 2015, with video hitting 224 petabytes--that's respective annual growth rates of over 117% and 138%. All as a result of the ubiquity of mobile devices, which, given the iPad's sales over its opening weekend, and the forthcoming PC tablets, are likely to make for an even more overloaded network.

Along with increasing its home broadband speeds 24-fold over copper wires on the domestic front, AT&T is improving its data flow capacity around the world by laying multiple undersea cables to improve its service between the U.S. and Europe, Asia and South America, and the Caribbean. Wi-Fi and next-gen broadband will all be boosted for mobile customers, as will the company's investment into cloud computing services for the corporate sector. And a total of nine telepresence rooms will be opened worldwide.

The telco has obviously been stung by criticism of its less-than-perfect network, as its PR machine has been set to spin for some time now, with both less-than-happy Luke Wilson and CEO Ralph de la Vega banging the AT&T drum.

A spokesman for AT&T got in touch after this feature was posted to emphasize that the $1 billion is aimed solely at its business customers. This year the firm is planning to spend between $18 and $19 billion in total expenditures, with around one-ninth of that going towards its wireless network and backhaul investment.

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