Light Reading
11:20 AM The big three US wireless carriers appear to be better off with bandwidth than it would sometimes seem

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
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
Google is now backing or actively exploring three ways of delivering cheaper Internet connectivity to the world: satellites, drones and balloons.
Flying killers turn into duckface enablers!
The scary thing is that this massive Las Vegas show could get even bigger, thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT).
The FAA has put out a holiday how-to video about the rules surrounding any shiny new drone for you get for Christmas.
Maybe the point of Apple Global SIM goes beyond offering consumers a brief whiff of choice when using their shiny new iPad.
Flash Poll
From The Founder
It's clear to me that the communications industry is divided into two types of people, and only one is living in the real world.
LRTV Documentaries
The Rise of Virtual CPE

1|27|15   |   01:38   |   (1) comment


As NFV strategies evolve from tests and trials to production telco networks, expect to hear a lot about virtual CPE (customer premises equipment) rollouts during 2015.
LRTV Documentaries
Optical Is Hot in 2015

1|23|15   |   01:56   |   (2) comments


Optical comms technology underpins the whole communications sector and there are some really hot trends set for 2015.
LRTV Custom TV
Policy Control in the Fast Lane

1|22|15   |   2:57   |   (0) comments


What's making policy control strategic in 2015 and beyond? Amdocs talks with Heavy Reading's Graham Finnie about the key factors driving change in the data services landscape. Find out what his policy management research reveals about the road ahead for policy control – and sign up for
LRTV Documentaries
Highlights From the 2020 Vision Executive Summit

1|21|15   |   4:33   |   (2) comments


In December 2014, Light Reading brought together telecom executives in Reykjavik, Iceland to discuss their vision for high-capacity networks through the end of the decade. The intimate, interactive meeting was set against the backdrop of Iceland's spectacular natural beauty. As one of the event's founding sponsors, Cisco's Doug Webster shared his company's ...
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Pay-TV Partner Harmonic, Helping Carriers Accelerate 4K Video Deployment with Huawei

1|20|15   |   5:42   |   (1) comment


At IBC, Peter Alexander, Senior Vice President & CMO at Harmonic, speaks about the growing interest in pay-TV service and its branching into multiple devices.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Sony Marketing Director Olivier Bovis Discusses the Outlook for 4K and Cooperation With Huawei at IBC 2014

1|20|15   |   6:50   |   (0) comments


At IBC, Olivier Bovis, Marketing Director of Sony, speaks about the coming of the 4K era.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Huawei Pay-TV Partner Envivio, Helping Carriers Accelerate 4K Video Deployment

1|20|15   |   2:57   |   (0) comments


At IBC, Olivier Bovis, Marketing Director of Sony, speaks about the coming of the 4K era.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Pay-TV's Networked Future

1|20|15   |   6:29   |   (0) comments


At IBC, Jeff Heynen, Principal Analyst at Infonetics, speaks about the future of the pay-TV industry and its transition.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Jeff Heynen: Distributed Access Will Help MSOs Compete in the Future

1|20|15   |   2:26   |   (0) comments


At IBC, Jeff Heynen, Principal Analyst at Infonetics, speaks about moving to distributed access and the future trend of cable business.
LRTV Interviews
Cisco Talks Transformation

1|20|15   |   13:02   |   (0) comments


In December 2014, Steve Saunders sat down with Cisco VP of Products & Solutions Marketing Doug Webster at Light Reading's 2020 Vision executive summit in Reykjavik, Iceland. They spoke about Cisco's approach to network virtualization as well as how service providers can begin to monetize high-capacity networks through the end of the decade.
LRTV Interviews
Bob Wilson, Arsenal Legend: The Light Reading Interview

1|16|15   |   35:36   |   (3) comments


Arsenal goalkeeping legend Bob Wilson was Light Reading's guest interviewee at the 2020 Vision Executive Summit in December. See what the former soccer star and sports broadcaster had to say when he took to the stage in Iceland.
LRTV Custom TV
What MEF Third Network Initiative Means for SDN & NFV

1|14|15   |   6:13   |   (0) comments


Vitesse Semiconductor CTO Martin Nuss discusses the importance of the MEF Third Network initiative and why it's good news for SDN/NFV industry initiatives.
Upcoming Live Events
February 5, 2015, Washington, DC
February 19, 2015, The Fairmont San Jose, San Jose, CA
March 17, 2015, The Cable Center, Denver, CO
April 14, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City, NY
May 12, 2015, Grand Hyatt, Denver, CO
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
September 9-10, 2015, The Westin Galleria Dallas, Dallas, TX
September 29-30, 2015, The Westin Grand Müchen, Munich, Germany
November 11-12, 2015, The Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, GA
December 1, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 2-3, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
Infographics
Hot Topics
BlackBerry Wants Net Neutrality Protection – That's Just Sad
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 1/22/2015
FiOS Picks Up Pace Again
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, 1/22/2015
Verizon Ready for Google MVNO Challenge
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 1/22/2015
Indiana Carrier Takes Fiber to the Farm
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Gigabit Cities/IoT, 1/22/2015
The New Internet Space Race: Google's Final Frontier?
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 1/21/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive