AT&T says it has upgraded Chicago network

Posted April 7, 2010 at 12:22 p.m.

By Becky Yerak |
AT&T, which has been criticized for its service and under pressure
to improve, said it invested nearly $40 million from 2008 to 2009 to
increase the wireless capacity of its mobile broadband network
throughout the Chicago area, enabling better and faster connections for
voice and data uses even during peak hours.

More than 700 cell towers in the Chicago area were updated, and more than 40 strategically placed  antennas and microcell sites were upgraded in the Loop downtown to provide additional coverage, the company said. It didn’t say by how much it was increasing its capacity in the Chicago area, and a spokeswoman didn’t have a figure readily available.

The Loop antenna system consists of about 40 pole- or building-mounted microsites and antennae “that are better suited to accommodate the city’s cavernous landscape,” Dave Fine, general manager for AT&T Mobility and Illinois consumer markets, said in a statement.

Wireless data traffic on the AT&T network has grown more than 5,000 percent during the past three years, partly due to the popularity of advanced smartphones.

Here’s a link to the AT&T press release with more details.



  1. ChgoSaint April 7, 2010 at 1:33 pm

    So how come I still lose signal at the top of Lake Shore Drive EVERY DAY? Lots of residents and Sprint is the only good signal in that area.

  2. Isaiah April 7, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    That is a load of BS. I was at the White Sox game on Monday and I had full bars and 3G yet I wasn’t able to send updates and it took me several tries to get a phone call to go through.
    It has gotten “better” throughout the city, but I wouldn’t call it 100% reliable. The true test will be this summer as people are out and calling, texting, Facebooking, etc.

  3. Dave April 7, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    Once Verizon gets the IPhone I will be switching. I dealt with AT&T’s horrible service too long. I am VERY upset with Apple for sticking with them so long. Why in the world would they have IPAD on their platform is beyond me. I guess it is money driven. Sad. I thought Apple was smarter than that.

  4. JB April 7, 2010 at 2:02 pm

    @ Isaiah: I don’t believe you. My Sox fan friends tell me every summer that Sox fans don’t use their cell phones at the Cell. Ever. They’re too busy being real baseball fans, not like us Cubs fans, who just want to enjoy our techno gizmos while flirting with our hot women and sipping beer in the warm sunshine. Come on, blue collar Sox fans! You know it’s true!

  5. ken chicago April 7, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    People don’t understand that the US Government regulations, state regulations, and city regulations screw up their cell service. The Sox fans lose service because the city won’t let the carriers put up the antennas! Do you honestly think that the carriers don’t want your business? If so, you are STUPID! In general, the mobile carriers fight the government to add capacity! It might cost them a $100K to increase capacity in a specific area for the hardware and 10 times that to get through the Democrat regulations and 10 times that to work through the Democrat bribes. Your cell service is bad because you voted for incompetent legislators. Adding cell service capacity is simple when you are adding technical capacity. When you have to deal with the Democrat regulations, the problem is often insurmountable until you pay the right bribes. So before you complain, put your alderman and congressman in jail and vote the Democrats out. Do you think that drug gangs could rule Chicago if they didn’t pay off the state Democrats?

  6. Jon O'Brien April 7, 2010 at 2:36 pm

    It’s no surprise that their infrastructure investment hasn’t also increased by 5000%. They can hype all the numbers they want- this is a disaster solely of their own making.

  7. Tim April 7, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    I live next to the Sox stadium. Guess what on opening day, someone tried to call me 27 times and it didn’t ring once…. GOOD JOB AT&T!!!!!!! You had the whole off season to fix up your service and it still is horrible!!!! Can’t wait for T-Mobile to have the iPhone…

  8. Bill April 7, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    @Ken: You appear to know everything and nothing all at once. I’m not going to comment on you political ravings, I’m only going to say that there is actually a Nextel cell site inside Sox park. As a Sprint/Nextel customer I have never had any problems in or around the park.

  9. steve April 7, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    I lose service in my own house everday at the same time.
    ATT sucks.

  10. Big Al April 7, 2010 at 4:51 pm

    The problem with the bad reception at Comsiky is who would want to call a White Sox fan?!!? :-O
    Seriously though, even in Soldier Field I can’t get a phone call through at a concert or game. It’s really ridiculous.

  11. fisher April 7, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    I get better service in the northwoods of Wisconsin than in Oak Lawn, Orland Park, Mokena, Joliet!

  12. hofo for prez April 7, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    There’s been a capacity issue in the city for years since the iphone came out.
    New sub myself in the west burbs that left sprint (coincidentally as known to be better in the city) for at&t about a month now and getting decent signal .
    Here I am, one that has championed CDMA going back to 2005 yet finding being able to get better reception with a GSM line… Irony I suppose.
    It really depends on your locale I guess.

  13. iPadder May 4, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    This is a public service message for those who use BNSF Metra and work on the train. Delete now if you don’t care.
    I have historically worked on my laptop with a Sprint broadband card on my way into work. I was looking forward to getting the iPad 3G for the following reasons 1) it weights 1.6 lbs 2) fast boot-up time 3) AT&T ‘s unlimited data for $30/ month with no contract.
    This morning was my first commute with the device and I was greatly disappointed. The device itself is exceptional but as you may have guessed the AT&T 3G network was awful. Download speeds for, etc were too slow to work productively. Speeds were so slow that I couldn’t even get a reading on the speedtest application that I have on the iPad.
    I cancelled my AT&T contract (6 hours after starting it) and went back to Sprint and traded in my laptop USB broadband card for its new 3G/4G Mi-Fi device called Overdrive. This device receives a signal and translates it to a wi-fi signal. I’m getting 3-6 Mbps now and browsing is fast. I also purchased logmein Ignition for the iPad and it is working well.
    May be the AT&T network is better on other train lives but it was not worth the money on the BNSF line. I’m just trying to keep people from making the same mistake.