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
The soaring bids for the FCC's AWS-3 auction will likely impact its planned Incentive auction and carrier capex plans, among other things.
They didn't really think this through, did they...
The company appears to working towards VoLTE support on the iPad, but it's not exactly clear when that will happen.
Will 5G become a worthless term before the communications standard is even defined?
CFO Carter Braxton says that T-Mobile's network was 'much more dense' from the buildout.
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
EE: The Road to 5G

12|16|14   |   16:02   |   (1) comment


Andy Sutton, the principal network architect at UK mobile operator EE, explains how his company is using Wembley stadium as a wireless test bed and how that's helping EE to plan the evolution to 5G.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Highlights of Huawei's NFV Open Cloud Forum 2014

12|16|14   |     |   (0) comments


Huawei hosted its inaugural NFV Open Cloud Forum during the SDN & OpenFlow World Congress 2014 in Düsseldorf, Germany. The Forum brought together technology thought leaders, senior executives and telecom professionals from global carriers, industry associations, as well as other partner companies in the ecosystem, to exchange views on and collectively explore how ...
LRTV Custom TV
Realizing Operators' Digital Vision

12|16|14   |   5:23   |   (0) comments


Leveraging technology is fundamental to digital transformation but understanding customers and serving them really well is at the heart of digital businesses. TM Forum lists the following as the strategic pillars of the digital business: business agility and rapid innovation, operational agility and effectiveness, IT and data centricity, plus customer centricity. ...
LRTV Documentaries
US Cellular Injects Analytics Into LTE

12|16|14   |   2:57   |   (1) comment


US Cellular's Mario Vela explains how the operator uses analytics for network planning and what comes next as the carrier looks to eke more value out of its metrics.
LRTV Interviews
How Cox Biz Plans to Keep Growing

12|15|14   |     |   (1) comment


Steve Rowley, SVP of Cox Business, details how the third-biggest US MSO intends to boost its revenues to $2 billion and beyond over the rest of the decade
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Interview With Bill Zhang, Director of SoftCOM Product Management, Huawei

12|15|14   |   2:50   |   (0) comments


Bill Zhang elaborated on Huawei's open philosophy in NFV solution development and network architecture design at the SDN & OpenFlow World Congress 2014.
LRTV Huawei Video Resource Center
Event Highlights: Huawei at SDN & OpenFlow World Congress 2014

12|15|14   |   3:43   |   (0) comments


Huawei joined the 2014 SDN & OpenFlow Congress as one of the key sponsors and contributors. At the event, Huawei reinforced the openness and flexibility of its network infrastructure strategies, and provided updates on its SDN and NVF innovations. Through participations at the exhibitions, forums and speeches, Huawei encouraged the industry to "think bigger and ...
LRTV Interviews
How Cable Biz Services Hit $10B Mark

12|12|14   |     |   (1) comment


Cable operators reached $10 billion in annual business services revenues by delving deeper into their vertical markets and expanding beyond the smallest firms.
LRTV Documentaries
Mediacom Aims to Test Connected Tractors

12|11|14   |   05:07   |   (3) comments


Cable business service provider is taking its services to the 'agribusiness' sector in partnership with farm equipment specialist John Deere and is getting involved in Gigabit Cities developments.
LRTV Interviews
TWC Business Looks Beyond $3B

12|10|14   |     |   (0) comments


TWC Business Services chief Phil Meeks explains how his unit has reached $3 billion in annual revenues and what its plans are for next year.
LRTV Documentaries
AT&T's New Security Strategy

12|10|14   |   02:36   |   (1) comment


AT&T's Chief Security Officer Ed Amoroso explains how his company is wrapping virtual security layers around micro network domains.
LRTV Documentaries
2020 Vision: A First View

12|9|14   |   02:25   |   (3) comments


At the 2020 Vision Executive Summit in Iceland, unique Heavy Reading research shows that comms service providers are optimistic about the next five or so years.
Upcoming Live Events
February 10, 2015, Atlanta, GA
April 14, 2015, New York City, NY
May 6, 2015, McCormick Convention Center, Chicago, IL
May 13-14, 2015, The Westin Peachtree, Atlanta, GA
June 9-10, 2015, Chicago, IL
Hot Topics
Vodafone to Ride T-Mobile Back Into US
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 12/12/2014
1-Gig: Coming to a Small Town Near You
Jason Meyers, Senior Editor, Gigabit Cities/IoT, 12/17/2014
Cisco Makes Big Analytics Push
Mitch Wagner, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading, 12/11/2014
Gardner's Departure a Cautionary Tale
Carol Wilson, Editor-at-large, 12/12/2014
T-Mobile Lights Up 27 Wideband LTE Cities
Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, 12/15/2014
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Upcoming Webinars
Webinar Archive