AT&T microsites show local network upgrades

The carrier is launching sites with detailed maps and a pitch for the T-Mobile deal

AT&T has begun launching localized websites where residents can find out about nearby network improvements -- and get the carrier's pitch for its proposed acquisition of T-Mobile USA.

The first of the wireless carrier's "microsites," called Focus: Kansas City, went live on Thursday. It has a map of the Kansas City, Missouri, area with numbered icons representing places where AT&T has recently improved its network. Visitors to the site can navigate the map, or search for a particular city or neighborhood by name, to see what has been done in that area.

Below the map is a section for news, which on Thursday linked to an interactive map that showed how much of Missouri would get high-speed LTE (Long-Term Evolution) coverage with and without the addition of spectrum from T-Mobile. It shows vast empty patches being reduced to small, isolated clusters.

A site for the St. Louis area also went live on Thursday. In a press release, AT&T said it launched the sites in response to customer feedback. The carrier has an interest in highlighting network improvements, because network quality is a key differentiator between service providers and the main reason AT&T gave for the T-Mobile deal. That acquisition is still being reviewed by regulators and has garnered fierce opposition from critics who say it will reduce competition and raise prices.

The microsites do give more detailed information about network improvements than is usually available in one easily accessible place. They highlight new cell sites, added wireless capacity and beefed-up wired backhaul capacity. By scrolling over the box listing the upgrades at a particular site, visitors can see a brief definition of each type of upgrade. All work done since the beginning of this year is listed.

AT&T said it will update the Kansas City site every Thursday. The carrier also established a Twitter feed, with the handle @ATT_KC, that will deliver current information about its activities in the area.

The sites also include locations of stores and AT&T Wi-Fi hotspots, as well as information about new devices and tips for managing battery life and personal data consumption.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

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