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AT&T & Verizon to Use 700 MHz for 4G

Dan Jones
LR Mobile News Analysis
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor
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LAS VEGAS -- CTIA Wireless 2008 -- Verizon Wireless has confirmed that it plans to use the 700 MHz spectrum it just won in the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) 's wireless broadband auction for its fourth generation (4G) services.

The operator paid nearly $10 billion in total for bandwidth and won the prized C-Band 700 MHz spectrum. The operator has had to wait to reveal what it will do with the spectrum until Thursday night, under FCC anti-collusion rules. (See Verizon & AT&T Win 700 MHz Sweeps.)

Now that the deadline has passed the operator can confirm what many had suspected, that it will use its preferred "4G" long-term evolution (LTE) technology over the 700 MHz spectrum, which should be cleared of analog TV broadcasters by the end of February 2009.

"We will run LTE over 700 MHz," Verizon CTO Tony Melone confirmed to Unstrung. Melone says the operator is already in "lab trials" with early LTE technology.

Vendors that Unstrung spoke to in Vegas suggest that Verizon intends to start a field trial of LTE gear in the first quarter of 2009. This test, however, won't run over the 700 MHz spectrum but use some of Verizon's other radio resources.

Verizon's Melone says that the operator intends to have initial LTE services up and running in "late 2009" with a fuller rollout continuing through 2010.

Third-ranked U.S. cellular operator, Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S), is currently ahead of its bigger rivals in deploying proto-4G mobile WiMax networks in the U.S. The operator has, however, hit a bump in the road with launching initial Xohm commercial services. Sprint had initially intended to launch in a few markets in April but has had backhaul problems that make the date impossible now. Company executives will not now say when Sprint will start offering commercial Xohm WiMax services. (See Sprint Quiet on WiMax Launch Date.)

This delay could give Verizon a chance to close the wireless broadband gap on its smaller rival, although -- unless something goes very wrong with the Xohm deployment -- Sprint will still be the first to launch these faster services in the U.S.

Number one U.S. cellular firm, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) said Thursday evening that it will use the spectrum for its own 4G plans: "In the future, AT&T's 700 MHz spectrum holdings will provide the foundation for deployment of next-generation wireless broadband platforms such as HSPA+ and LTE," the operator said in a statement.

AT&T bought in its own nationwide 700 MHz footprint through auction and acquisition. The operator spent $6.6 billion on 12 Mhz of B-Block spectrum at the recent auction and has spent nearly $10 billion all-told on filling in 700 MHz coverage across the nation. (See AT&T's Big Spend.)

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 3:42:12 PM
re: AT&T & Verizon to Use 700 MHz for 4G
The results of the US spectrum auctions in the 700 Mhz band are out, as are the plans of some of the major players which have won the auctions.
Verizon and AT&T have been the largest two successful bidders. AT&T has already announced plans for using this spectrum for LTE. Verizon could also be looking at similar use. Echostar, the fourth largest bidder has also given signals that the spectrum may be used for Mobile TV extensions of the Dish Network.
Where does this leave WiMAX where the WiMAX forum had given signals to develop profiles in the 700 MHz band. In fact the WiMAX Congress Asia 2008 ( 9-10 April Singapore) is set to discuss the policies of 700 MHz use in its regulatory sessions.
It also raises questions on how the digital dividend will be treated in Europe and Asia? Will it also be used for LTE? Quite unlikely considering the state of broadcast networks and the need for future requirements. This leads to a risk that LTE technologies may also develop in incompatible bands globally. If AWS band used for mobile phone use is not enough, we have another case here.
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