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AT&T's Huge 180 on 700 MHz LTE Interoperability
by Karl Bode 12:21PM Wednesday Sep 11 2013
After fighting such changes for years, AT&T did an abrupt about face this week and agreed to 700 MHz LTE interoperability rules that should benefit smaller wireless carriers and consumers. Most smaller carriers operate in Band Class 12 while AT&T most often operates in Band Class 17. In addition to roaming issues, smaller carriers argue that unless interoperability rules are in place, handset makers will cater primarily to the larger competitors, who already enjoy numerous competitive advantages.

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T-Mobile was among several competitors and groups (MetroPCS, C Spire, the Rural Cellular Association) who recently asked the FCC to consider making the entire 700MHz band interoperable, in order to aid competitor LTE roaming and help the public-safety community. AT&T long fought the changes citing "interference concerns" competitors argued didn't exist.

Getting AT&T To budge is a pretty big win for interim FCC boss Mignon Clyburn (remind me why she wasn't good enough to lead the agency, again?), who in a statement called AT&T's about face "big win for consumers, especially in rural areas."

"(This) effort will allow AT&T’s network to support Band 12 capable devices," AT&T stated in a blog post. "AT&T has also committed to working collaboratively with its chipset partners and OEMs to introduce, within a reasonable time frame, new Band 12 capable devices into its device portfolio." AT&T didn't give a time frame other than to say the shift will be completed "within a reasonable time frame."

Granted this won't fix everything. Verizon still contributes to significant fragmentation courtesy of their use of Band 13.

topics flat nest 

Tavistock NJ

4 edits

AT&T LTE in my area on LTE Band 17 700mhz

Correcting data - lte:14 in Android status is NOT the LTE band #. Gathering that info now.
Band 14 also uses 700 mhz.

My Samsung Galaxy S4 uses AT&T LTE Band 17 in my home area. While not listed in my online doc, I verified that info on my phone. Band 17 uses 704 - 716 mhz up and 734 - 746 mhz down. The penetration capability of 700mhz frequencies might explain why I get such good speeds inside my house. »www.radio-electronics.com/info/c···trum.php


AT&T’s current 700 MHz LTE network, which is expected to provide coverage to nearly 270 million consumers in 400 markets by the end of 2013, currently supports only Band 17 devices. Band 12 support on AT&T’s network will require that AT&T deploy a new network technology that will permit simultaneous support of both Band 12 and Band 17 devices. Absent this dual support, millions of pre-existing Band 17 devices currently in use by AT&T’s customers would be stranded.

To achieve this, AT&T must develop, implement and deploy throughout its network Multi-Frequency Band Indicator or MFBI capabilities. MFBI will permit AT&T’s network to operate simultaneously as both a Band 12 and Band 17 network and to support devices in both bands. This feature was recently standardized, and as with any new significant feature, deployment will require lab regression testing of the new major software release that will contain it, lab testing of the feature and its functionality, and field testing that includes extensive testing with existing Band 17 legacy devices as well as new prototype Band 12 devices. Additionally, testing of both types of devices with various carrier aggregation capabilities operating simultaneously with the MFBI feature will need to be completed.

Thankfully AT&T's plans won't strand any existing Band 17 devices(several 100 million) and will enable band 12 devices for interoperability. But reading between the lines in AT&T's letter to the FCC, this might take quite awhile and AT&T has no reason to make this happen quickly.

Springfield, MO

Re: AT&T LTE in my area on LTE Band 17 700mhz

How did you find that information?

Tavistock NJ

Re: AT&T LTE in my area on LTE Band 17 700mhz

said by TheRogueX:

How did you find that information?

I am not sure it is same on all carriers and devices, but for the Galaxy line of S devices on AT&T you go to your dial phone screen and put in *#0011#

This puts the phone in Service Mode. I then did a screen capture(home/power simultaneous). To go back to normal, press the back icon in the lower right corner of the phone.

For your device and carrier do a google search on "Service Mode".
The Nobama Clock



great news

The cellular market will only become less dysfunctional with more interoperability. If a handset can't support certain frequency bands or standards due to engineering constraints or cost, so be it. But if support is artificially limited just to spite non-huge carriers, that's anti-competitive to the max. Also the GSM/CDMA "format war" needs to end: 911 should work as long as the phone is charged and within range of any base station.



related to cricket purchase?

i am pretty sure cricket/leap owns some a-band 700mhz. so if at&t is to utilize that spectrum it would have to make inter operable phones anyways.
·Cox HSI
·KCH Cable

U.S. Cellular mentioned at ARSTechnica...


...a customer could switch from AT&T to a smaller carrier such as US Cellular or C Spire and be able to use the new network and roam on AT&T's network.

What this does not mention, is whether or not existing U.S. Cellular customers would be able to roam on AT&T towers for "4G" service...

The thing that still sucks is U.S. Cellular's 200MB worth of roaming - that needs to simply go away if they can suddenly roam on AT&T's network.



They do what would have made sense in the first place. I wonder if the Band 12 devices will be allowed to roam on USCC? It would be weird for a USCC device to be roaming on AT&T's LTE while using Verizon's voice...

Helena, MT

Already did

They make it sound like their network didn't support band 12 devices before, it did. 17 is a subset of 12. The reason they didn't sell band 12 devices is performance - TV channel 51 has the potential to leak into and overload the amplifier. Band 17 devices have the high pass filter set higher, thus preventing this issue.