AT&T's de la Vega: HSPA+ coming 'in certain locations'

AT&T hasn't been quite as forthcoming with the exact details of its next-gen network plans as T-Mobile and Verizon have been recently, but FierceBroadbandWireless appears to have wrested a tidbit from wireless boss Ralph de la Vega in a recent interview. Though the standard HSPA 7.2Mbps deployment is still AT&T's short-term focus, HSPA+ -- which can theoretically take HSPA to 21Mbps and beyond -- is clearly still on its radar prior to LTE. "We will also deploy HSPA+ in certain locations," de la Vega said on no uncertain terms -- without revealing even a hint about where those "certain locations" might be, unfortunately.

Speaking of LTE, the 4G tech still seems to be on AT&T's back burner for the moment with the first commercial markets not scheduled to light up until 2011, a strategy that seems pretty difficult to argue with considering HSPA's considerable room to grow from its current speeds and the lack of LTE devices in the pipeline. Of course, that could end up really hurting these guys a few years down the line when the first generation of LTE is in its prime and they've given Verizon about a year's head start, but -- and this is a huge "but" -- if they can save up some cash by rolling cheaper HSPA upgrades now and really dump unheard-of levels of cash into the network when they're good and ready, it's conceivable that they'll be able to build out a big footprint in short order. Ralph, can we recommend you look to Bell and Telus for inspiration on how to pull that off?