DALLAS (

TheStreet

) -- Acknowledging the public outcry of so many angry

Apple

(AAPL) - Get Report

iPhone users,

AT&T

(T) - Get Report

again says that it is

continuing its 3G network upgrades

.

The announcement Wednesday essentially repeats a

declaration AT&T made in May

outlining its wireless expansion plans. One new element in the press release was the naming of six cities -- Charlotte, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles and Miami -- where the company is making software upgrades for a faster HSPA 7.2 wireless technology.

Ma Bell helped shed some light on just how heavy its network burden has become with the rise of smartphones like Apple's iPhone.

Apple's Next Big Thing: Still the iPhone

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The popularity of smartphones has resulted in "wireless traffic on the AT&T network that has quadrupled over the past year. This growth includes a volume of smartphone data traffic over the AT&T network that is unmatched in the wireless industry," the company said in a press release Wednesday.

The four-fold increase in traffic comes at the same time that AT&T is cutting its network spending by $2.5 billion or 15% from last year's outlay.

With the popularity of the iPhone, AT&T has landed in a

bit of a bind

as

complaints mount

about poor network quality. AT&T is in the last year of its exclusive iPhone sales agreement with Apple. This becomes particularly important since AT&T needs to keep Apple on board and retain customers to cover the heavy subsidies it has spent to lure customers with cheaper iPhones.

AT&T's upgrade update comes on the same day as Apple's iTunes conference in San Francisco. It was at the last Apple conference where every mention of AT&T was greeted with jeers from the audience.

AT&T would like to avoid that sort of reception.

--

written by Scott Moritz in New York