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Gleaning AT&T's 4G Plans for LTE on AWS

Dan Jones

2:25 PM -- First things first, we know that AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) will use T-Mobile US Inc. 's Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum for Long Term Evolution (LTE) services in the future -- assuming the merger passes muster -- but we don't know exactly how it will deploy this 4G yet.

If you check the T-Mobile 3G coverage map you can see that the operator is using partners or just plain doesn't have 3G coverage in rural areas. Even though the deal will give it a complete AWS spectrum footprint on the 1,700MHz band in the U.S., it may still have a lot of work to do deploying any network using that frequency if the merger is approved.

As I pointed out in my previous story, T-Mobile doesn't even have infrastructure built out in some rural areas. It is collocating radios with other carriers or using roaming deals to patch coverage holes.

This prompts a few questions:

  • How will AT&T deploy LTE across 95 percent of the American population with T-Mobile's existing infrastructure? Try and keep T-Mobile's existing partner deals in place or collocate AWS-compatible radios on its own towers?
  • How long will this take? Seems like a massive undertaking, even for AT&T.
  • How much will it cost? AT&T has suggested that it expects $8 billion more in incremental infrastructure spending over seven years as part of the deal. What isn't clear yet is how much of this will be on the LTE deployment.

What we do know is that AT&T will likely have enough spectrum to deploy a couple of 10MHz channels for LTE over AWS with T-Mobile. As Sidecut Reports notes, T-Mobile has about 27MHz of AWS spectrum on its hands. Remember, AT&T also grabbed some AWS licenses in the 2006 auction.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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12/5/2012 | 5:09:09 PM
re: Gleaning AT&T's 4G Plans for LTE on AWS

No incremental iPad step for me to iPad2, the first quantum jump in iPad performance will be 4G capability.  Any plans from Apple for this?  Will they restrict it to ATT, which seems to be very much lagging in 4G, or will they release a 4G iPad for VZW?

OBTW, a VZW person told me that there are no plans to put Richmond, VA and central Virginia into 4G until 2013! WTF this is the state capital with significant financial and federal reserve businesses, two more years seems unreasonable when other cities of lesser size seem to be inline already, like Winston-Salem.

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