FCC Chair Proposes to Repurpose WCS Band for 4G
Federal Communications Commission chairman Julius Genachowski today issued a proposal that could carve out a nationwide slice of spectrum for mobile broadband services. The proposal is in response to a request from AT&T that asked the FCC to change some of the rules regarding the 2.3GHz Wireless Communications Services band of spectrum. AT&T wants to use the 2.3GHz band to supplement its 700MHz spectrum for its LTE 4G network. It has been purchasing up bits and pieces of 2.3GHz spectrum over the last few months. The issue at hand concerns how the spectrum is currently used. Sirius Radio operates on an adjacent spectrum band, and an LTE 4G network run in the 2.3GHz WCS band could disrupt Sirius' signal. AT&T and Sirius worked out a proposal earlier this year that would protect Sirius' signal by bordering it with a 10MHz channel buffer on either side of Sirius' spectrum. As proposed, Genachowski's modifications could give AT&T 20MHz of spectrum in the 2.3GHz band. "Today's action is part of [the FCC's] efforts to remove regulatory barriers that limit the flexible use of spectrum," said FCC spokesperson Tammy Stone. "By unleashing 20MHz of spectrum now – and up to 30MHz in the future – the Chairman continues to leave no stone unturned when it comes to maximizing opportunities to refill the mobile spectrum pipeline that had begun to run dry over the last decade." The Competitive Carrier Association opposes AT&T's WCS plans, and recently request that the FCC review them as one, larger transaction rather than separate smaller ones.
AT&T Finally Using WCS Spectrum for LTE; Will Test LTE-U
AT&T has begun deploying LTE on its 2.3GHz WCS spectrum in a handful of markets around the country. Earlier this year, AT&T said it would begin the deployment by summer, and it is just meeting that commitment.
FCC Chair Says 5G Is a 'National Priority'
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler plans to push the nation's 5G agenda forward this week by defining the spectrum that the wireless networks of the future will use. "I am circulating to my colleagues proposed new rules that will identify and open up vast amounts of spectrum for 5G applications," said Wheeler.
T-Mobile Implores FCC to Set Aside More Low-Band Spectrum
T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray filed a letter with the FCC asking it to raise the amount of spectrum set aside for competitive carriers in the forthcoming 600MHz reverse auction. The FCC has already agreed to reserve 30MHz of spectrum for carriers other than AT&T and Verizon.
FCC Likely to Side with AT&T and Verizon in Spectrum Fight
The FCC is close to making a final decision regarding how much spectrum to set aside for smaller carriers in next year's 600MHz auction and T-Mobile isn't going to be happy. The FCC has already set aside 30MHz of the airwaves in question for smaller carriers, thereby limiting how much spectrum AT&T and Verizon — the nation's two largest carriers — can acquire.