FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s office sent out a proposal to enable Long Term Evolution (LTE) mobile broadband deployments in 20MHz of spectrum in the Wireless Communication Services (WCS) band. Back in June, AT&T said that it compromised with Sirius Satellite Radio (Nasdaq: SIRI) over how to deploy LTE in the 2.3GHz WCS band close to the existing radio service while minimizing interference. The operator followed that up in August with a buyout of WCS spectrum holder NextWave Wireless Inc. (Nasdaq: WAVE) for a total that could reach up to $650 million.
AT&T, however, still needs the FCC to approve its use of LTE in WCS before it can start deploying a network. A proposed order from the chairman's office is usually a good indicator that things are moving toward a regulatory conclusion.
"Today's action is part of Genachowski’s continued efforts to remove regulatory barriers that limit the flexible use of spectrum, which is one way he has led the Commission towards helping address the continued 'spectrum crunch,'" says Tammy Sun, director of communications at the FCC in a statement. "By unleashing 20 megahertz of spectrum now -- and up to 30 megahertz in the future -- the Chairman continues to leave no stone unturned when it comes to maximizing opportunities to refill the mobile spectrum pipeline that had begun to run dry over the last decade."
Why this matters FCC approval of 4G services in the WCS band will give AT&T much more spectrum to play with. The operator, however, has stressed that it will use the spectrum for "alternative" LTE services. It is not yet clear what kind of alternative ambitions AT&T has, but they could include using the spectrum for fixed wireless and backhaul links.
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- AT&T to Buy NextWave for 'Alternative' 4G
- Why's AT&T Eyeing Its WCS Spectrum for LTE?
— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile