FCC Approves AT&T Purchase of WCS, Comcast Spectrum to Boost Its LTE
December 19, 2012 10:01 AM
comment(s) - last by
Spectrum will take approximately three years to fully develop
In 1997 the
U.S. Federal Communications Commission
sold hundreds of spectrum licenses to AT&T, Inc. (
) and other carriers, raising $14.7M USD. The only problem was that the spectrum in question lay adjacent to Sirius XM Inc.'s (
) satellite radio band, and it was feared that if AT&T made use of its new spectrum it would cause interference. Despite the fact that the FCC willingly sold the licenses to AT&T -- or other carriers which in turn sold it to AT&T -- it refused to authorize the use until Sirius XM and the carrier worked out a deal.
I. FCC Keeps the Good Times Rolling for AT&T
For over a decade that deal was never reached and the spectrum -- in the so-called WCS (Wireless Communications Service) band -- went unused.
But earlier this year Sirius XM and AT&T
finally settled their differences
after AT&T promised to set aside some of the spectrum to use as a "buffer" -- unused space between the two company's holdings, designed to prevent interference.
The FCC has approved two AT&T spectrum deals in the last three months.
[Image Source: Andrew Hinderaker]
gave the deal its blessing
in October, and AT&T was officially in the WCS game. It then closed a set of deals with Comcast Corp. (
) and Horizon Wi-Com, a startup which rode the now-defunct WiMAX 4G standard, to acquire 608 more WCS licenses (enough spectrum to cover 82 percent of the population in 48).
The FCC this week
those license transfers.
II. A Long Road to Better Coverage
Between the October and December approvals, AT&T now has
a lot of spectrum
on its hands to improve its service. But it will take a lot of work to do that. By AT&T's best estimate it will take "approximately three years" to fully leverage the new spectrum.
On the network side AT&T has to upgrade its base-stations; in some cases this may consist of a simple firmware upgrade, in other cases new hardware may be necessary to broadcast in the newly acquired chunks of WCS space.
Network upgrades will be necessary to use the new spectrum. [Image Source: Wind River blog]
On the device side, the broadcasting support is useless, if the chips in smartphones aren't designed to make use of the space. Again, here a mix of firmware and hardware (antenna, etc.) modifications will likely need to be applied in order to send and receive signals clearly on the new chunk of spectrum.
AT&T hopes to turn off its current fallback 2G network (EDGE) in 2017. It has begun the work to shuffle some 2G spectrum to 3G (HSPA+) and 4G (LTE) offerings, but again this will be a slow transition. AT&T also
plans to activate "advanced LTE"
, which is expected to include voice-over LTE in 2013 (currently AT&T's 4G LTE network is only used for data traffic).
The carrier is the
nation's second largest
and twentieth largest carrier in the world, serving approximately 100.7M USD device-owning Americans.
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
I can't wait
12/19/2012 3:17:35 PM
3 years is a long time but I don't think I will be switching providers anytime in the next couple of years since Verizon's offerings and pricing doesn't appeal to me. I wonder how much more speed and coverage this would give them.
AT&T turned on LTE for the San Fernando Valley in Los Angeles on Monday! Woke up on "4G" went to sleep with LTE. Bandwidth more than doubled over night and we were not even on any LTE rollout list that I know of.
"This week I got an iPhone. This weekend I got four chargers so I can keep it charged everywhere I go and a land line so I can actually make phone calls." -- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg
AT&T Reports Better-Than-Expected Q3 Results; Breaks Android/Windows Phone Sales Record
October 24, 2012, 6:20 PM
FCC Considers AT&T LTE Spectrum Conversion, Sirius Interference Solved
September 27, 2012, 1:33 PM
FCC Tosses AT&T Conciliatory Approval of Qualcomm Spectrum Purchase
December 23, 2011, 10:00 AM
AT&T to Unload LTE Advanced on the U.S. Masses in 2013
November 9, 2011, 10:46 AM
Quick Note: New "Windows" Branding for Microsoft's Smartphones is Leaked
September 15, 2014, 2:00 PM
Sony Abandons Android Upgrade Support for Year Old Xperia and 3 Others
September 15, 2014, 11:07 AM
Apple Racked Up 4 Million iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus Pre-orders Within 24 Hours
September 15, 2014, 9:54 AM
Despite Massive Failure of Apple Store Website, "Record Number" of iPhone 6 Pre-orders Received
September 12, 2014, 1:19 PM
Quick Note: Motorola Set to Release Unlocked, “Pure Edition” of Second Gen Moto X
September 12, 2014, 12:37 PM
Grand Theft Auto V for Xbox One, PS4 Launches Nov 18; PC Version Lands Jan 27
September 12, 2014, 9:04 AM
Most Popular Articles
Apple Announces Its Smartwatch: The $349 Apple Watch
September 9, 2014, 2:09 PM
Quick Note: Buy an Xbox One Sept 7-13, Get a Free Game
September 4, 2014, 10:42 AM
Apple Announces 4.7" iPhone 6, 5.5" iPhone 6 Plus
September 9, 2014, 1:45 PM
T-Mobile Launches Un-carrier 7.0, Beefs Up Wi-Fi Calling
September 11, 2014, 2:56 PM
HTC Preps Nexus 9 With Nvidia K1 64-Bit "Denver" SoC, Android L Onboard
September 10, 2014, 10:21 PM
Latest Blog Posts
Space Terrorism is a Looming Threat For the United States
Apr 23, 2014, 7:47 PM
Facebook Aims to Provide Internet to "Every Person in the World" with Drones, Satellites
Apr 1, 2014, 10:20 AM
Retail Mobile Sites Experience Outages in Light of Simplexity's Bankruptcy
Mar 14, 2014, 8:48 AM
Tesla vs. BMW: Who Has the Safer EV?
Feb 1, 2014, 2:56 PM
Justice Leaks Details of Next HTC One Two Flagship Phone
Dec 5, 2013, 4:04 PM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information