AT&T has completed its efforts to expand its 4G LTE coverage to the Mahoning Valley.
The new network is 10 times faster than the technology previously available, said Adam Grzybicki, president of AT&T Ohio. The changes will cover nearly all of the Warren-Youngstown-Boardman area. The full project for adding 4G LTE network in the state will continue through 2014.
Grzybicki made the announcement of the upgraded network Wednesday at the AT&T store on Boardman-Canfield Road.
“It means that you’ll have speeds roughly the same as DSL [digital subscriber line] or cable Internet, and you’ll have it in the palm of your hand,” he said.
The goal is to develop a new network that will be flexible enough to meet whatever the increase in demand is, Grzybicki said.
The iPhone was developed just over six years ago, and since then, demand for data use through cellphones is more than 30,000 times larger, he said.
“Part of the goal is to make sure this is a real benefit to economic development,” Grzybicki said.
Improving the wireless capability of the area is not just a benefit to individuals, but also helps the business community, said state Sen. Joe Schiavoni of Boardman, D-33rd.
In addition, as technology has changed, legislation has had to be altered to keep up, said state Rep. Ron Gerberry of Austintown, D-59th.
“The average citizen doesn’t think about 4G, 3G — they just pick up their phone and know that it works,” Gerberry said.
Legislators throughout the state have spent a lot of time working with AT&T and other companies to make sure the law both protects citizens and allows for needed improvements in technology, Schiavoni said.
Improvements in the area’s wireless network are an economic driver that benefits a lot of area businesses, said Tom Presby, director of business development at the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber.
“The ability to have access to the latest communications technology is critical,” he said.
Throughout the state, AT&T has spent more than $1.5 billion to upgrade its cellular network, said Steve Kristan, director of external affairs for AT&T.
The company has spent $225 million in just the first quarter of this year.