FCC Greenlights AT&T's WCS Spectrum Play
Agency Insists They're Aiding 'Spectrum Crunch'
The FCC has approved AT&T's plan
to use WCS spectrum to aid in their deployment of mobile (and potentially fixed residential) LTE services. The agency began circulating an order this week allowing AT&T a 20 MHz chunk of spectrum in the 2.3 GHz WCS to use for LTE. AT&T and Sirius XM had recently filed a proposal
(pdf) with the FCC suggesting a change to the rules governing WCS spectrum, with the intention of limiting any interference for XM radio.
Assuming regulatory approval, AT&T has been on a WCS acquisition spree -- recently acquiring NextWave for $600 million
, with additional WCS spectrum deals planned with Comcast and Horizon Wi-Com. The particular nature of the WCS spectrum (poor building penetration) means it could be useful for an AT&T effort to launch fixed residential LTE services with roof-mounted antennas.
"Today’s action is part of Chairman Julius Genachowski’s continued efforts to remove regulatory barriers that limit the flexible use of spectrum, which is one way he has led the Commission towards helping address the continued ‘spectrum crunch," said the FCC in a statement. Genachowski desperately wants his legacy at the FCC to be the "guy who solved the spectrum crunch," despite the fact it's not so much a spectrum crunch as it is inefficient use and hoarding of existing spectrum, something that hasn't yet been fully addressed by the FCC.
Re: Great If all these things manage to fall into place, Sprint and AT&T will both have rock-solid networks. I have seen Sprint's Network Vision sites in action and they are phenomenal.
But whether or not they can manage to roll it out to their entire network in time to keep the ship from sinking is yet to be seen...and whether or not AT&T will actually spend the money to implement this is yet to be seen.
Although I have to disagree that WCS will be suitable for rural areas, if you've ever been out in the country and tried to rely on PCS service, you know what I mean. It doesn't just get slow, it just doesn't work at all.
VZW didn't "capture" the 700 spectrum, they paid through the nose for it. They had to. If anyone else had gotten their hands on the Boardwalk and Park Place of spectrum, they could have challenged VZW's rural monopoly. That's how VZW has stayed on the top of the heap all these years, they bought every cellular-band network they could get their hands on, spaced the sites far and wide, and sat back and reaped the rewards.
PCS and the higher-band frequencies can work in sparse, open areas. It just costs a hell of a lot more to do it. Where VZW can justify 1 cell site on the tallest hill to serve a rural town, PCS carriers would need 3 sites on both sides of the hill to compete, and sometimes there just isn't enough demand to make that scenario profitable.