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AT&T Trudges Forward with 700MHz Interoperability

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Mar 20, 2015, 11:01 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

AT&T recently told the FCC where it stands with respect to interoperability in the 700MHz band and said it is making good progress. At issue is phones' abilities to roam between several different bands within the 700MHz A Block slice of airwaves, specifically Band 17 and Band 12. AT&T at first argued against the idea of adding support for Band 12, citing expenses and interference. It later reversed course and has recently finalized lab tests of its network multi-frequency band indicator (MFBI) capabilities. The carrier said it is "well into our field testing for all of our macro-cellular vendors and progressing well." AT&T is working with several of its competitors to fully test the interoperability between bands. Support for Band 12 is important mainly for smaller carriers, such as C Spire Wireless, but it is also important for T-Mobile, which plans to deploy LTE in the 700MHz band later this year. Phones that support more bands can be used across a greater range of carriers. "With recent 3GPP specification changes, it is now possible to build Band 17 devices that are upgradeable to Band 12 MFBI using software," said AT&T. "These devices require different filters/hardware than the legacy Band 17 devices. This requirement has been added to AT&Ts device requirements and RFP guidance." AT&T has committed to releasing Band 12-capable handsets later this year. Beginning Sept. 30, half of all new devices released by the carrier will be compliant.

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