[ap] Stung by complaints about dropped calls and slow wireless downloads, AT&T Inc. is going to spend an additional $2 billion to improve its network this year.
The country's largest telecommunications company has faced an aggressive ad campaign from Verizon Wireless that attacks the quality and range of AT&T's network.
On Thursday, AT&T executives spent an unprecedented amount of time on their fourth-quarter earnings conference call to defend the wireless network and detail how they plan to make it better.
They acknowledged that wireless traffic, particularly from the iPhone, means that performance in San Francisco and Manhattan are below AT&T's targets.
AT&T said problems have been reduced in the last three months. And to keep tackling the service issue, it is ramping up its capital spending this year, from $17.3 billion last year to between $18 billion and $19 billion. While it didn't break out how much will be invested in wireless, it said the increase over last year would be about $2 billion. It will add more cell towers and connect the towers to faster, fiber-optic lines.
"Wireless is our No. 1 investment priority," said John Stankey, head of AT&T's Operations division.
AT&T says it will invest heavily in network fixes