TUPELO - AT&T Wireless on Tuesday turned on its 3G network in Tupelo, eliciting an excited response from ATamp&T users in the region who have been campaigning for months for the high-speed data network.

Third-generation, or 3G, mobile broadband networks are geared at mobile devices, such as the iPhone and BlackBerry, that rely heavily on data usage.

The company had promised to have 3G in Tupelo by the end of the year.

AT&T spokeswoman Sue Sperry said 17 towers provide a mobile broadband network to the Tupelo area.

The towers are scattered and include locations at Tupelo High School, Saltillo, Belden, McCullough Boulevard, Chesterville Road, Tupelo Furniture Market, Barnes Crossing, Auburn Road, Gloster, West Main Street, Presley Heights, Furrs, Verona, Plantersville and south Verona.

Sperry said the company will spend the next two weeks "harmonizing" the towers to make sure they work together and hand off usage to each other. As towers are tweaked, they will be turned off and then turned back on, she said.

AT&T users may see their networks fluctuate between 3G and EDGE during the tweaking process, she said. EDGE is a network that is a step below 3G in terms of data speed.

As of lunch on Tuesday, Sperry said the data network was getting heavy traffic but it was "carrying it really well." She expects the usage will settle down when users finish "playing" and testing out their new options.

"If data usage gets higher, we will move voice to EDGE," she added. "It will go back and forth between EDGE and 3G for a while because of all the traffic. It's a temporary situation."

If AT&T users are in the Tupelo area and 3G isn't showing up on their iPhones or other smartphones, she recommended checking the settings to make sure 3G is enabled under "general settings" or "networks."

Then reboot the phone by turning it off then back on again, she said.

Contact Carlie Kollath at (662) 678-1598 or carlie.kollath@djournal.com.

Carlie Kollath/NEMS Daily Journal

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