Verizon: Cable Deal Delayed Spectrum Apocalypse a Few Years
Verizon's Spectrum Doomsday Moves From 2015 to 2016 or 2017
In order to get their landmark deal with the cable industry approved, Verizon recently trotted out the reliable old capacity crisis bogeyman
, despite previously stating on the record they had plenty of spectrum for LTE deployment. Verizon claimed that if the deal wasn't approved they would run out of spectrum by 2015 (aka three years), but failed to back up this claim with, well, any actual numbers whatsoever.
Now that their $3.8 billion spectrum and marketing deal with cable has been approved, Verizon CFO Fran Shammo this week stated that the company probably has about 4-5 years before we need to start worrying about the spectrum end of days again (a net gain of just a few short years). Again, no math was provided
Speaking at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference, Shammo said there is now no real urgency for the next four to five years. That said, he noted that over time as usage on the carrier's EV-DO network declines, Verizon will start repurposing some of its 3G spectrum for LTE service. Shammo was speaking in place of Verizon Communications CEO Lowell McAdam, who had been scheduled to appear at the conference.
The Verizon finance chief said that by mid-2013 the company will have filled in its 3G coverage footprint with LTE service using its 700 MHz spectrum. At that point, he said, Verizon may start deploying its AWS spectrum for LTE in certain cities.
Verizon is about to sell off their 700 MHz Lower A and B Block spectrum
, most of which will likely go to whoever has the deepest pockets (read: AT&T). Both AT&T and Verizon make generous use of the "spectrum apocalypse bogeyman" in order to get regulatory approval for spectrum acquisitions they may or may not actually need (actual deployment versus hoarding to prevent competitive market entry). Generally, the press, analysts politicians and regulators all like to pretend that neither company engages in the latter.
It didn't work well for AT&T's ham-fisted attempted takeover of T-Mobile, but Verizon's more nuanced attempt to terrify regulators into compliance seemed to work quite well, despite the massive anti-competitive wireline implications of the cable deal
. It helped them that FCC boss Julius Genachowski really, really wants his legacy to be "the man who cured the nonexistent spectrum crunch." Again, there isn't a lack of spectrum so much as there's too much inefficiently used spectrum, and that's certainly not solved by letting AT&T and Verizon hoard the lion's share of it in their corporate cupboards.
Re: Actually.. their will never be a Spectrum Apocalypse.. Concur, but a lot of people (myself included) ask this question: Why aren't they making full use of what they already have? My old hometown had a heavily congested 3G network, to the point of sub-dialup speeds during the day. In that market they own the Cellular B license, along with the PCS C and F blocks.
Near as I can tell, they don't use the PCS licenses for anything. None of my phones ever connected on the PCS bands, for voice or data, nor have any of the other ones I have access to. The only time I saw a phone connect to PCS was when it was within range of a Network Extender (femtocell). Granted, PCS doesn't have the reach of cellular, but deploying services on PCS would have alleviated some of the burden on the cellular data channel(s), so why not do it?
Re: Actually.. their will never be a Spectrum Apocalypse.. Hmm, interesting take on it. I hadn't considered that. I still wonder why they are content to let the 3G network deliver such atrocious performance. I had hoped it would get better up there when they lit up the 4G network but it hasn't, there are still portions of my commute where the 3G network is virtually unusable. I can even identify the individual base stations that are always congested, and accordingly plan my usage of the network during my lengthy commute to work. If they lit up IS-95/EvDo services on PCS would they be able to reuse some of the equipment (antennas and cabling, if nothing else) for a future LTE deployment? Is an antenna an antenna or does LTE need some special antenna configuration that isn't compatible with other air interfaces?
Another random thought, but if they had the PCS bands lit up, perhaps the network wouldn't have failed us so quickly during the floods last year? They lost a number of low lying base stations, and the remaining ones simply couldn't handle the load. For about three days we had great difficulties using the voice network, it ranged from "try ten times and your call will go through" to "doesn't work at all unless you make your call at 3am", depending on where you were. There were even periods when SMS stopped working. This was a minor inconvenience to me, I stayed dry and have a POTS line, but it was huge problem for the first responders, as well as the people who got displaced.
In that same vein, I've wondered why they didn't kill the EvDo network during the floods, so they'd have an extra channel or two for the voice network. Surely voice services are more important than data during a natural disaster? The EvDo network wasn't usable anyway, but it was still turned up, and I've always wondered why.
Re: Actually.. their will never be a Spectrum Apocalypse..
said by iansltx:Right, but what stops them from just shutting down EvDO and reassigning the channel to voice service? Would it be a limitation of the 1x line cards, they can only handle so many simultaneous channels or some such?
I'm pretty sure that an EvDO line card can't do 1x, and vice versa.
Mostly idle curiosity on my part, but seeing the failure of the cellular network did reinforce my belief that POTS is worth the $0.80/day it costs.