Light Reading

Is There Really a Spectrum Shortage?

Dan Jones
12/14/2012
50%
50%

11:20 AM -- It's been a busy week in the continuing race to grab precious wireless spectrum in the U.S.

Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) revealed a $2 billion bid for control of Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR)'s nationwide 2.6GHz spectrum. Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH) got clearance to use AWS-4 spectrum for an LTE network. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) , meanwhile, says it will open up 100MHz of 3.5GHz radar spectrum for small cells and sharing.

The Clearwire deal in particular, which has CNN Money declaring Sprint a would-be spectrum king, gets me wondering if it's really necessary to talk about a spectrum crunch for the big three carriers in the U.S. at the moment.

Consider these points:

If Sprint wins Clearwire it will get access to average holdings of 160MHz in the 2.5GHz-2.6GHz band in the top 100 U.S. markets. (See Clearwire: What 4G Spectrum Shortage? and Sprint Wants to Buy Clearwire Outright for $2.1B.)

As Karl Bode over at DSL Reports pointed out in November, AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) didn't really need to acquire T-Mobile US Inc. , which it said it did to complete its Long Term Evolution (LTE) rollout to 300 million people, after all. (See AT&T Puts Up $14B to Boost Broadband and Big AT&T & T-Mobile 4G Buildout Ahead?)

In fact, AT&T has been busy buying up spectrum and getting the FCC to agree to open up the WCS band for its use later this decade. (See Sprint Could Make Millions Selling WCS to AT&T.)

Verizon Wireless , meanwhile, said in March that without its AWS spectrum swap with cable companies this year, it feared a spectrum shortfall on its 700MHz C-Block network in some markets by 2013. In order to get the AWS spectrum, though, it has agreed to sell off some 700MHz spectrum in the A- and B-Block. (See Verizon Fears 4G Spectrum Shortfall and Verizon CFO: Spectrum Sale to 'Play Out' in Q1.)

So it seems to me what we're really seeing is jockeying by AT&T, Verizon and Sprint to get good amounts of spectrum that best suit their commercial and strategic interests.

Now, I know that access to spectrum is a very real concern for smaller players in the market. In fact, I think we could see even more smaller carriers rolled up by the big guys to add subscribers and spectrum in 2013 and beyond.

Of course, as with oil and any other finite resource, a spectrum crunch is inevitable eventually, particularly as tablets and other data-hungry devices eat up more of the shared bandwidth on a network.

Small cells, spectrum sharing, smart antennas and software-defined radio (SDR) should all -- hopefully -- help us manage and stretch out wireless capacity in the future.

For now, however, it doesn't seem to me that the big three carriers in the U.S. are in danger of falling off a bandwidth cliff just yet.

What do you think?

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

(1)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Jeff Baumgartner
50%
50%
Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
1/10/2013 | 4:00:09 AM
re: Is There Really a Spectrum Shortage?


That cost of entrance barrier is the sort of thing Dish faces, whether it will admit to it or not.  Wonder how long before this spectrum king in the making tries to annex Dish's holdings. JB

More Blogs from Jonestown
Consumers have no way of knowing if the aftermarket Sprint phone they're buying will work on the operator's network -- and that's burning Sprint's MVNOs.
Verizon's AOL buy is its latest push in an ongoing strategy to deliver more mobile video to its customers.
Cisco CEO predicts the digitization of everything will change, like, everything!
The connected car is driving the IoT market now, but that's just the start of it.
It's the Claure and Legere show! Sprint and T-Mobile CEOs trade barbs -- or at least retweets -- over rival Super Bowl ads.
Flash Poll
From The Founder
Last week I dropped in on "Hotlanta," Georgia to moderate Light Reading's inaugural DroneComm conference – a unique colloquium investigating the potential for drone communications to disrupt the world's telecom ecosystem. As you will see, it was a day of exploration and epiphany...
Between the CEOs
Affirmed Networks CEO: Digging Into NFV

5|28|15   |   40:26   |   (2) comments


Hassan Ahmed, CEO of Affirmed Networks, is making some big claims for his NFV startup. I sat down with him at the Light Reading HQ in New York City to get the skinny on what this Acton, Mass.-based startup is up to.
LRTV Documentaries
Cable Eyeing SDN for Headend, Home Uses

5|26|15   |   05:57   |   (1) comment


CableLabs is looking at virtualizing CMTS and CCAP devices in the headend, as well as in-home devices, says CableLabs' Karthik Sundaresan.
LRTV Documentaries
Verizon's Emmons: SDN Key to Cost-Effective Scaling

5|22|15   |   03:53   |   (0) comments


For Verizon and other network operators to ramp up available bandwidth cost effectively, they need to move to SDN and agree on how to do that.
LRTV Documentaries
Lack of Universal SDN a Challenge

5|21|15   |   04:51   |   (3) comments


Heavy Reading Analyst Sterling Perrin talks about how uncertainty about SDN standards and approaches may be slowing deployment.
LRTV Custom TV
Steve Vogelsang Interview: Carrier SDN

5|20|15   |   05:02   |   (0) comments


Sterling Perrin speaks to Steve Vogelsang, Alcatel-Lucent CTO for IP Routing & Transport business, about the new Carrier SDN-enabling Network Services Platform and the operator challenges it solves.
LRTV Custom TV
Carrier SDN: On-Demand Networks for an On-Demand World

5|20|15   |   20:52   |   (0) comments


Steve Vogelsang, Alcatel-Lucent CTO for IP Routing & Transport business, talks about requirements and benefits of Carrier SDN during the keynote address at the Light Reading Carrier SDN event May 2015.
LRTV Documentaries
The Security Challenge of SDN

5|19|15   |   02:52   |   (0) comments


CenturyLink VP James Feger discusses concerns that virtualization could create new vulnerabilities unless network operators build in safeguards.
LRTV Custom TV
NFV Elasticity – Highly Available VNF Scale-Out Architectures for the Mobile Edge

5|18|15   |   5:50   |   (0) comments


Peter Marek and Paul Stevens from Advantech Networks and Communications Group talk about their NFV Elasticity initiative and the company's latest platforms for deploying virtual network functions at the edge of the network. Packetarium XL and the new Versatile Server Module: 'designed to reach parts of the network that other servers cannot reach.'
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Bay Area Spark Meetup 2015

5|14|15   |   3:54   |   (0) comments


Developed in 2009, Apache Spark is a powerful open source processing engine built around speed, ease of use and sophisticated analytics. This spring, Huawei hosted a meetup for Spark developers and data scientists in Santa Clara, California. Light Reading spoke with organizers and attendees about Huawei's code contributions and long-term commitment to Spark.
LRTV Custom TV
The Transport SDN Buzz

5|12|15   |   06:01   |   (1) comment


Sterling Perrin, senior analyst at Heavy Reading, speaks with Peter Ashwood-Smith of Huawei and Guru Parulkar of ON.Lab about the evolution of transport SDN and the integration of technologies.
LRTV Custom TV
Next-Generation CCAP: Cisco cBR-8 Evolved CCAP

5|5|15   |   04:49   |   (0) comments


John Chapman, Cisco's CTO of Cable Access Business Unit and Cisco Fellow, explained the innovation design of Cisco's cBR-8, the industry's first Evolved CCAP, including DOCSIS 3.1 design from ground-up, distributed CCAP with Remote PHY and path to virtualization. Cisco's cBR-8 Evolved CCAP is the platform that will last through the transitions.
LRTV Custom TV
Meeting the Demands of Bandwidth & Service Group Growth

5|1|15   |   5:35   |   (0) comments


Jorge Salinger, Comcast's Vice President of Access Architecture, explains how DOCSIS 3.1 and multi-service CCAP can meet the demands of the bandwidth and service group growth.
Upcoming Live Events
June 8, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
June 10, 2015, Chicago, IL
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
October 6, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
October 6, 2015, Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
Procera has gathered facts, stats and customer experience feedback from a survey of 540 users from across the globe.
Hot Topics
Charter Seals Deals for TWC, Bright House
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 5/26/2015
Eurobites: Alcatel-Lucent Trials 400G in Czech Republic
Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, 5/26/2015
Will Carriers Follow Facebook's Networking Lead?
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 5/28/2015
Charter Plans Business Services, Wireless Push
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, 5/27/2015
Facebook Reinvents Data Center Networking
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 5/26/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
On May 29th 1 PM ET, Steve Saunders, founder and CEO of Light Reading, will be drilling into the "pains and gains" of NFV with Saar Gillai, SVP & GM for NFV at Hewlett-Packard Co. (NYSE: HPQ) (HP). He has defined a four-step NFV model describing a sequence of technology innovation. It's a must-read doc for any network architect looking to get to grips with their NFV migration strategy. Join us for the interview, and the chance to ask Saar your NFV questions directly!
Hassan Ahmed, CEO of Affirmed Networks, is making some big claims for his NFV startup. I sat down with him at the Light Reading HQ in New York City to get the skinny on what this Acton, Mass.-based startup is up to.
Cats with Phones