AT&T contacted TiPb with a statement refuting claims that their capital expenditures, specifically their investment in wireless infrastructure, has decreased while at the same time their data revenue is increasing.

To quickly recap, the claim about infrastructure investment falling as data profits rose was one of the most direct charges leveled by Newsweek's Daniel Lyons (writing as Fake Steve) as part of his Operation Chokehold series, and repeated several times on TiPb and other sites.

In the statement (reprinted in it's entirety below) AT&T claims they've increased network investment in 2009, and are taking other steps (like rolling out the 850 MHz band) to improve customer experience.

Remaining unaddressed: the actual cause of the iPhone-on-AT&T problem(s) in cities like New York and San Francisco. Granted, users in those or other affected areas may not care why it's broken. However, they likely do care deeply that it gets fixed and soon. (And so should AT&T given the increasing level of mainstream attention).

So, read the response below and then let us know what you think.

The metric you use in the phrase “While AT&T was content to increase data revenue while decreasing infrastructure investment all in the name of shareholder value” has been seen in a number of posts recently. However, it captures overall corporate capital expenditures for AT&T, which includes wireline investment as well as a number of items that are not directly linked to network investment (or performance) - including real estate, call centers and IT support. There is no way to calculate or even infer what our network investment is for any given period using those capex numbers. While we don't break capex down to the level of network investment for competitive reasons, based on expectations for the full-year 2009, we anticipate that our wireless network investment will increase significantly compared with 2007 levels. And wireless capex increased significantly from 2007 to 2008.

Here’s a look at how we’re spending what’s expected to be between $17 and $18 billion in improvements in 2009 to our wireline and wireless networks, with billions on wireless:

  • We are nearly doubling the wireless spectrum serving 3G customers in hundreds of markets across the country, using high-quality 850 MHz spectrum. This additional spectrum expands overall network capacity and improves in-building reception.
  • We are adding about 2,000 new cell sites to our network in 2009, expanding service to new cities and improving coverage in other areas.
  • We’re adding about 100,000 new backhaul connections, which add critical capacity between cell sites and the global IP backbone network.
  • We’re enabling widespread access to our Wi-Fi network – the largest in the country with more than 20,000 hotspots in all 50 states – allowing customers to take advantage of the best available AT&T mobile broadband connection.
  • We’re rolling out even faster 3G speeds with deployment of HSPA 7.2 technology and are preparing for field trials of next generation, LTE wireless networks next year, with deployment planning to begin in 2011. This schedule aligns with industry expectations for when a wide variety of compatible 4G wireless devices should be available.