- Special Sections
- Public Notices
Local smart phone users should see improved service by the end of the year.
Cathy Lewandowski, a senior public relations manager for AT&T, has confirmed that AT&T plans to bring mobile broadband to Marion County in 2012, and Mary Pat Regan, the president of AT&T Kentucky, sent an email to Lebanon Mayor Gary Crenshaw confirming that AT&T plans to launch 3G service in Marion County in late 2012.
Marion County Judge/Executive John G. Mattingly and local citizen George Hardin also received emails from Nancy Jarrett, a regional manger for AT&T, confirming the company's intent to offer mobile broadband before the end of the year.
"Our best guess for activation at this time is late [third quarter] or early [fourth quarter]," Jarrett wrote.
Kevin Pinkston, who has been an AT&T customer for two years, is glad to know that 3G service is coming, but he would like to see it sooner than AT&T is projecting.
"The end of the year is not quick enough. If we experience bad weather conditions in October, November, and December, we might not see deployment of mobile broadband until 2013," he said.
He added that he knows AT&T cannot control the weather, but he would like to see the company begin work on its local 3G network by July or August.
"If 3G is not here before January, AT&T is going to receive several complaints from customers," Pinkston said.
While he said his voice service is comparable in Marion County to other places, he notices a big difference when he accesses the Internet with his phone.
"If I want to look up something on the Internet and talk on the phone at the same time, I don't have the ability to do that here in Marion County," he said. "As far as Internet speed is concerned, there is a major difference between Marion County and other places that have mobile broadband."
In Marion County, AT&T customers have access to the company's EDGE network, which is a 2G network, which has download speeds of 75 to 135 kb per second, according to information on the AT&T website.
By comparison, Bluegrass Cellular's EV-DO 3G network allows customers to receive data at speeds up to 784 kb per second, according to Barry Nothstine, the vice-president for sales and marketing for Bluegrass Cellular.
In her email to Judge Mattingly, Jarrett noted that AT&T's wireless network group said they will try to expedite the work, but there are some factors beyond their control.
"First, we need to order the equipment. Since our technology is based off the GSM standard, our upgrade to 3G requires an entirely separate set of equipment than our 2G equipment," Jarrett wrote.
GSM stands for Global System for Mobile, which is the most open and widely used wireless network platform in the world, according to Lewandowski.
The 3G equipment will be installed on the same towers where the 2G equipment is now located, Lewandowski explained in an email to the Enterprise. After the 3G equipment is in place, AT&T will be able to work on further upgrading the 3G service with HSPA (high speed packet access) and LTE (long term evolution) technology.
Jarrett's email also offered some insights into how AT&T has expanded its 3G network.
"It's not really that we are going around Marion County so much as we're coming to you," she wrote.
AT&T's Lexington network extended to Mercer and Garrard counties, then into Boyle County, and most recently into Taylor County. From Taylor County, the network can expand into Marion County, according to Jarrett.
She also explained why Taylor County received 3G service before Marion County.
"First, we have a company-owned wireless store in Campbellsville. Another reason is greater population density in Taylor County and Campbellsville," Jarrett wrote.
Lewandowski added that the Taylor County network also expanded from LaRue County.
From the other direction, Jarrett added that AT&T's network has reached Nelson County, which could also be expanded to Marion County.
And like other AT&T officials, Jarrett stressed that AT&T is aware of local customers' desire to have mobile broadband service.
"We definitely have heard you and will be working to get coverage to Marion County ASAP," she wrote.
Marion County Economic Development Director Tom Lund said local industries want improved mobile broadband coverage, and it's also something prospective businesses want as well.
"They don't come out and directly ask you," Lund said, "but they expect you to have it."
Mayor Crenshaw said he's probably received 30 emails from citizens concerned about local 3G service. Any time a lot of citizens are concerned, he is, too, but the issue has also affected him. If the city administrator or city attorney needs to contact him, his ability to receive emails quickly depends on whether he has access to a wi-fi or 3G service connection.
"In this technological world, speed is everything," Crenshaw said.
Dylan Tungate, a sophomore at Marion County High School, uses an iPhone 4. He also helps maintain the website for Marion County High School and has worked in the summer with the school district's technology department.
Since he's known as a technology guy, several students and even teachers at the high school have asked him about mobile broadband. He said the increased interest may be because more people received 3G compatible phones and devices for Christmas.
Tungate has noticed a big difference in how quickly he can receive information in Marion County compared to neighboring communities. When he can access AT&T's 3G network, however, he actually gets information faster than his friends with Bluegrass Cellular, he said.
"It's frustrating because you're not getting your money's worth," Tungate said. "It's not, obviously, something I have to have, but I would like to be able to use my phone a whole lot more."