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AT&T draws closer to FCC decision on using WCS spectrum for LTE service

2012 October 2
Posted by jeremydale.thomposon

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski announced that he will be bringing up an important proposal for discussion with FCC commissioners. Chairman Genachowski’s proposal will permit AT&T to deploy 4G long-term evolution (LTE) service over the Wireless Communication Services (WCS) band normally reserved for satellite radio.

The announcement comes at time when AT&T is playing catch-up with Verizon Wireless when it comes to 4G LTE. If approved, the proposal will benefit AT&T, but not by much. AT&T will still need two more years to create its own LTE network. In comparison, Verizon is practically ready to launch its network.

Mobile devices demand ever-increasing amounts of data, prompting telecom companies to fight tooth-and-nail for scarce bandwidth that can provide WCS bands for LTE networks.

Chairman Genachowski announced his proposal after AT&T petitioned the FCC for permission to begin using 2.3GHz bands that aren’t Recobeing used by satellite radio. In anticipation of a favorable decision, AT&T purchased Nextwave, a company with assets in the WCS band, for a total of $600 million.

“The proposed WCS rule changes and NextWave acquisition represent an alternative approach to creating additional wireless network capacity to help support skyrocketing wireless data usage on Smartphones and tablets,” said AT&T when it acquired NextWave Wireless back in August.

The FCC is leery of the possibility that allowing mobile backhaul and other mobile Internet services on WCS bands will generate interference that disrupt satellite radio signals and transmission. After AT&T and Sirius XM proposed a change on how the WCS band can be used for LTE service, the FCC is thinking of amending the rules and allowing terrestrial wireless communication systems to tap the WCS bands.

The proposal to amend the rules on limiting WCS bands to satellite radio will add more competition in the wireless marketplace. Currently, the market is a duopoly between AT&T and Verizon. Other market players simply do not have the money to compete with those two, given that AT&T had held a monopoly of the market for the longest time while Verizon may soon double its capacity once it pulls off its purchase of bands from cable companies.

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