AT&T kicks it into overdrive, rolls out 7.2Mbps everywhere -- but there's a catch

AT&T was quick to steal a smidge of T-Mobile's thunder today with the announcement at an investor's conference that has sped up its 7.2Mbps HSPA software upgrade to all 3G cell sites, moving up the original deadline of 2011. Here's the thing, though: they didn't really move up the 2011 date because 7.2Mbps-capable cells don't do much good without a wide-enough pipe to feed them on the back end. That's the other part of AT&T's one-two punch for boosting network speeds, and that part won't be wrapped up for a while yet. The company says that it expects "the majority" of the mobile data it handles to operate over its upgraded back end by the tail end of this year -- and it's already started the upgrades in Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, and Miami -- but the reality here is that we probably won't be blazing anywhere near the theoretical max throughput for a little while yet.