Word on the Street: AT&T wraps up network upgrades in Fresno, Valley

AT&T has wrapped up three years of work to improve its networks in Fresno and the central San Joaquin Valley, putting an estimated $175 million into its cellular, Internet, video and phone systems in the region.

The company converted hard-wired connections between its downtown Fresno switching/routing facility and dozens of cellular towers in the Fresno area from copper cable to fiber optics, and installed new computer hardware and software in the center. Additionally, in 2014 alone AT&T made 29 wireless network upgrades, installing four new cellular sites and adding 14 new wireless high-speed internet connections in the Fresno area.

Among the areas where wireless service was expanded or upgraded to 4G LTE (fourth-generation wireless broadband) service are the area near Willow and Gettysburg avenues in Clovis and Visalia’s Sequoia Mall and Visalia Mall neighborhoods. AT&T says 4G LTE is designed to provide data download speeds of 80 to 100 megabits per second, compared to 4G service with advertised download speeds of 16 megabits per second.

AT&T’s efforts came as the popularity of smartphones and tablets exploded among its customers, increasing the demand for broadband data capacity on its network. It was also a response to one of its chief wireless rivals, Verizon, which began expanding its own 4G LTE service in Fresno and the Valley.