Verizon, AT&T tout investments in state networks

Published 10:33 am Thursday, April 2, 2015

By Julio Ojeda-Zapata

St. Paul Pioneer Press

ST. PAUL — Verizon is, in certain ways, the top dog among the big-four wireless carriers in the Twin Cities and around Minnesota, with rival AT&T nipping at its heels.

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But AT&T has made great strides in recent years. Its high-speed wireless-data coverage outstate is still a bit of a patchwork, while Verizon has near-universal 4G LTE coverage, but the gap between the carriers has steadily narrowed.

AT&T said Wednesday it is pouring resources into improving its Twin Cities and outstate-Minnesota service. The carrier said it spent about $500 million in the state over the past four years.

That is part of the $140 billion AT&T said it spent on wired and wireless networks nationwide over the past six years. These figures come from the capital-investment announcement AT&T said it makes every year.

AT&T upgrades in the Twin Cities include specialized wireless setups called Distributed Antenna Systems at the University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium, and on the Mayo Clinic’s main campus in Rochester.

Verizon hasn’t been idle.

Since last September, Verizon has taken steps to improve its service in the Mower County area, adding equipment in Austin and Red Rock Township

It’s also done work around the Twin Cities. In downtown St. Paul, it recently deployed a series of “small cell” devices atop light poles to enhance traditional cellular systems, and to improve wireless-data coverage and reliability.

The small cells are placed at a height of 15 to 30 feet, and have a coverage range of about 500 to 1,000 feet.

“This is a new solution in our network toolkit to increase capacity,” the carrier said in a statement.

—Distributed by Tribune Content Agency. The Herald contributed to this report.