AT&T, a leading carrier with Integral Choice, has plans in the near future to use some of its unused spectrum in a move that could possibly “reshuffle the wireless spectrum deck.”
The carrier filed a joint proposal to the FCC on Friday with the satellite radio provider, Sirius. In their filing, together AT&T and Sirius proposed a solution that would solve many of the longstanding interference concerns between AT&T’s unused WCS spectrum, which happens to be located in the 2.3 GHz band and Sirius’ satellite radio service.
The new proposal would include AT&T agreeing to give up around 10 MHz of the WCS (or Wireless Communication Services) as a “guard band” to prevent interference with Sirius’ satellite transmission. The proposal between AT&T and Sirius would also change the rules of spectrum in the 2.3GHz band, making it much easier for AT&T to implement its 4G LTE network.
If the FCC were to agree and approve the plan, it would be a major boost to AT&T, even though they already own a large portion of the WCS spectrum. It would also give the company nearly a full nationwide coverage range. Yet, the agreement could quite possibly hurt other spectrum holders that were hoping to profit from AT&T’s desperate need for additional spectrum.
One of the terms that AT&T is offering the FCC, AT&T is asking for more lenient rules on the rest of the spectrum it plans to use to build the 4G LTE service in exchange for the large chunk they would be giving up. AT&T also wants the FCC to extend the build-out requirements on this spectrum.
Yet, even if the FCC adopts AT&T’s suggestions, it could still be three to five years before the spectrum is available for use. The move could still put AT&T one step closer to Verizon Wireless, which owns a significant nationwide chunk of the 700MHz wireless spectrum as well as some Advanced Wireless Services spectrum that it hasn’t used yet. It’s now trying to buy about 20MHz of unused AWS spectrum from several cable companies.
The FCC is likely to rule on the proposal by the end of the year.
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