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Visualized: AT&T's network-boosting Small Cell

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WiFi used to be the only somewhat reliable way for a carrier to plug up holes in its network coverage. It's a tactic AT&T's used to great effect in many metropolitan areas where it offers wireless service. But short of acquiring more spectrum -- a costly and time-consuming process littered with legal roadblocks -- the operator's been exploring an alternative solution: small cells. Testing for these stopgap signal boosters (pictured above) has already been underway since late 2012, with a trial case study in Crystal Lake Park, MO that proved outdoor reception could improve by almost 100-percent. And that test site is just the start of a greater small cell rollout that should place over 40,000 of these units throughout AT&T's nationwide footprint by 2015. So if you're tethered to the operator's network and sick of spotty coverage, help is most definitely on the way.

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