AT&T Upgrades Network Capacity in San Mateo County

Forty-five cell sites with increased capacity equivalent to adding another lane of traffic on Bay Bridge at rush hour.

On Friday, AT&T announced upgrades in 45 cell sites across San Mateo County designed to increase coverage and expand capacity.

The upgrades should make an immediate impact on both network accessibility as well as staying connected to the network, the company said.

“Adding more capacity to a cell site is like adding more lanes on the freeway so that voice and data traffic flows faster,” said Terry Stenzel, AT&T Vice President and General Manager for Northern California and Northern Nevada.

George Ross, a communications liaison with SCN Strategies, said that data traffic on the AT&T network has increased by 8,000 percent in the last four years.

"All that data usage requires additional spectrum to continue moving at the speeds customers expect," he said.

Upgraded networks are now in place for the following cities:

Redwood City



Daly City

Half Moon Bay

Menlo Park



Moss Beach


Portola Valley

San Bruno

San Mateo

South San Francisco

AT&T said that it also continues to upgrade cell sites with fiber optic and Ethernet connections back to the central switching facilities, which enables faster 4G speeds.

"Whether customers are talking, texting, e-mailing, surfing the net, streaming music or video, using their favorite apps, or conducting business we want to make sure they have a good mobile broadband experience,” said Stenzel.

The company said that it could not give details on the exact amount coverage and capacity would increase from the upgrades until it could collect data from the sites itself.

Elliot Rodriguez August 21, 2011 at 05:05 PM
I have lived in the Emerald Hills section of Redwood City for years and have never had good service in my home. Even with your new upgrade my service sucks. I have been with AT&T for years and I really would like to stay with them, as my cell phone is all I use, I am concidering changing. I need better service for my business.
Nancy Krosse August 22, 2011 at 05:47 AM
I feel your pain Elliot. Whenever I answer the cell phone in my house I have to quickly run outside to prevent from dropping the phone call. This past winter I dreaded it when my cell phone rang! I've called AT&T to ask if they could help improve their service to my home and they suggested I should BUY a boost to increase the reception. I pay hundreds of dollars every month to AT&T and they want me to buy a boost?! I can't wait until my contract expires so I can go to another service provider.
Bob Winters August 22, 2011 at 03:05 PM
The AT&T coverage at our house in San Carlos is also terrible. Edgewood Rd. between Alameda and 280 is also a guaranteed dropped call.
Elliot Rodriguez August 22, 2011 at 05:44 PM
you would think that with the amount of money in both Emerald Hills and San carlos hills, at&t would give us better service.
Reality Check August 22, 2011 at 10:47 PM
While there may be money in the hills, there are far less people/customers per square mile and they pay the same rates (regardless of wealth) as areas with much, much higher customer densities.
Nancy Krosse August 22, 2011 at 11:42 PM
I'm not sure if it has anything to do with wealth, but if AT&T wants to hang on to its customers, like me, then I would hope it would be a good corporate strategy to do it's best to keep me as a customer. Like providing reliable service.
Elliot Rodriguez August 22, 2011 at 11:51 PM
can't ask for more than that Nancy
Reality Check August 23, 2011 at 12:19 AM
The other point in addition to the fact that more affluent customers in the hills are lower density and pay the same rates as less affluent, is that when landscape gets irregular (folds, hilly, canyons, etc.), it becomes far more difficult (and therefore costly) to ensure good radio signal coverage at cellular frequencies -- which are high 800/900 MHz up to over a GHz. So we're talking about a relatively smaller number customers that cost more to serve per person and that don't pay any more than others living in higher-density "flatlands." As a fellow consumer, I sympathize ... but if a competitor's service is better for you, what are you waiting for? If you really want/need to stay with AT&T, you can set up one of their internet-connected 3G Microcells in your house. These are very small internet-connected low-power AT&T cell sites that provide a good signal for up to 10 smart phones that you can specify (from a web page) within the reach of their signal. You can get them used on eBay and Craigslist. There's no extra charge once you have the hardware. The other option is to buy and install one of the cellular repeaters available from 3rd parties.
Nancy Krosse August 23, 2011 at 12:42 AM
What am I waiting for...? I'm waiting for my contract to expire with AT&T so I won't be penalized for terminating my service with them before the contractual deadline. Cripes, Reality Check, you're making me feel guilty for living in the hills. I don't know what the demographics are for hillside dwellers with cell phones vs. folks who live on the "flatlands" and what their annual income is... All I know is I'm frustrated. I pay our bill every month on time and we get crappy service. We live 20 minutes from Silicon Valley - the very location where cell communication was invented and developed and yet my phone calls get dropped all the time. On top of that, the call drop occurrence is getting worse. Can't wait for October.
Reality Check August 23, 2011 at 01:41 AM
It sounds as if your service used to be better. If you have plenty of "bars" (signal strength) but are suffering increased dropped call frequency, then the problem is increasing call volume is exhausting the capacity of the cell towers whose signal reaches your home. If that's the case, I'm not sure how you can be sure to avoid the same fate with another carrier in October. The problem with contracts is avoided by switching to pay as you go. AT&T offers a number of prepaid rate plans for that purpose and "Go Phones" -- but all you need is an unlocked GSM phone so you can pop in an AT&T SIM card. When you're overseas, you can buy and use cheap local SIM card in it to get a less expensive local phone (often with free incoming calls from anywhere). No need to feel guilty! Hill living, just like rural living or living in any area more prone to certain disasters or problems/drawbacks (floods, fires, landslides, tsunamis, snow storms, pest invasions, droughts, snobbery, hurricanes, tornadoes, need to drive everywhere/auto-dependence, social/political isolation, lack of services, etc.) has its inherent advantages and disadvantages. That's all. Comes with the territory...


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