Hope for Some 4G Harmony

11:00 AM Will Mexico start a wave of 700MHz licensing that leaves the US model stranded?

September 21, 2012

3 Min Read
Hope for Some 4G Harmony

11:00 AM -- It's just possible that a decision made earlier this week by the Mexican authorities could have a significant impact on the 4G spectrum decisions of other countries in Central and South America and even elsewhere.

The country's regulator, the Comisión Federal de Telecomunicaciones (Cofetel), is to license the 700MHz band for 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) services and is adopting the APT (Asia-Pacific Telecommunity) model for segmentation, judging it to be more efficient than the scheme used in the U.S. in the 700MHz band. According to Cofetel (translated from the original announcement in Spanish): "As the APT 700 plan segments the band in two portions of 45MHz with a 10MHz block between the transmission and reception sub-bands, it provides greater flexibility in spectrum use and caters to the future demands of mobile broadband services. In addition, this model has guard bands to protect adjacent spectrum, both the television in the bottom of the band and the cellular at the top."

Cofetel also believes that, by adopting the APT model, it will gain greater economies of scale for Mexico's operators, as the same spectrum allocation is being adopted widely across the Asia/Pacific region, leading to a broad availability of network and device products. Here's how the Mexican regulator sees the APT model stacking up against the U.S. model:

Table 1: How Cofetel Views the Characteristics of the Two 700MHz Models

US Plan

Asia/Pacific Plan

Global economies of scale������

400 million users������

4,000 million users����

Standardized amount of spectrum for large scale commercial use�



Amount of spectrum dedicated to public safety��



Number of networks with 2 � 10MHz possible to accommodate������



Number of networks with 2 � 15MHz possible to accommodate������



Number of networks with 2 � 20MHz possible to accommodate������



Portability from one network to another within the same band���



Connectivity model for law enforcement, relief, and intelligence�������

Dedicated network, dedicated spectrum, investment by Public �Safety Forces

Commercial network, dedicated capacity guaranteed, investment by private operators

Cost to cover the entire population of the Federal District����

US$800 million

US$150 million

Minimal time to deploy a network that provides capacity to the entire population of Mexico City

2.5 years

1.5 years

The decision has been applauded by the GSM Association (GSMA) , which stated: "The GSMA encourages countries in Latin America to work together to implement a harmonised 700MHz band plan for mobile services. Spectrum harmonisation is essential to generate cost efficiencies in both network technology and devices, allowing deployment to remote areas to ultimately make mobile broadband services more accessible and affordable for all consumers." (See GSMA Applauds Mexico's 700MHz Plan.)

If Latin American markets follow Mexico's lead, where does that leave the U.S.?

— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading

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