AT&T Commits to Interoperability
In the lower 700 MHz Band

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on September 10, 2013 at 12:46 pm

The following may be attributed to Joan Marsh, AT&T Vice President-Federal Regulatory:

“Today, AT&T agreed to take definitive and concrete steps to bring interoperability to the lower 700 MHz band. Challenges in the lower 700 MHz band have left the 700 MHz A Block vulnerable to interference and largely undeployed. Now, under the leadership of Chairwoman Clyburn and her Staff, an industry consensus has emerged that offers a path to achieving interoperability in the band.

“AT&T, for its part, has committed to investing considerable time and resources to the modification of its 700 MHz LTE network through the implementation of a newly-standardized software feature. That effort will allow AT&T’s network to support Band 12 capable devices. AT&T has also committed to working collaboratively with its chipset partners and OEMs to introduce, within a reasonable time frame, new Band 12 capable devices into its device portfolio. AT&T’s commitments are spelled out in detail in a letter filed today with the FCC.

“These commitments, along with actions the FCC intends to take to harmonize the service rules for the 700 MHz E Block to address interference concerns, will put the industry on a path to increased investment and deployment opportunities in the 700 MHz A Block. Chairwoman Clyburn should be congratulated for this significant achievement that will benefit the wireless industry and US consumers alike.”

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Revisiting Lower
700 MHz Interoperability

Posted by: Joan Marsh on June 17, 2013 at 11:09 am

In recent months, there has been a renewed push to drive a regulatory mandate to address the interoperability issues that challenge the lower 700 MHz band.  Perhaps acknowledging that a Band 12 mandate ignores the interference concerns present in the band, the small carriers are now arguing that B and C block licensees should be required to support both Band 17 and Band 12 in all the devices they offer.  Setting aside the fact that this would require carriers like AT&T that own only B and C block licenses to support a band class that they don’t need and won’t use, a Dual Band mandate would fall far short of solving the interoperability challenge and raises a host of new problems.

At the outset, such a requirement would needlessly add material extra cost and complexity to devices.  A Dual Band mandate would require AT&T to equip every device we offer with both Band 12 and Band 17 components.  The result:  inferior performance, form factor limitations and more cost – which would adversely affect competitiveness and user experience – all to enable operations on a block of spectrum that we don’t own.

Moreover, AT&T is already pushing the envelope on how many bands we can accommodate in our devices. Devices today are tightly engineered to achieve the small form factor that consumers desire, and even the smallest change in components can have substantial impacts on form factor and performance.  And the majority of radio chipsets in use today support only three bands below 1 GHz.  AT&T already must support Band 17 (700 MHz B and C Blocks), Band 5 (800 MHz), and Band 29 (700 MHz D and E Blocks) just to cover its LTE requirements, not to mention the need for ports to support legacy technologies and international roaming.  In short, there are no ports to spare for unnecessary chipsets and, if we were forced to support Band 12, something else would likely have to go.  

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Interoperability and the
Thorny Issue of Interference

Posted by: Bob Quinn on May 6, 2013 at 10:15 am

Every three months or so, the FCC’s 700 MHz Interoperability Docket finds its way into the Washington media.  Given the recent announcement of both new and interim FCC Chairpersons and their coming agendas, I expect the issue to continue to get coverage, so let’s recap the issue and status in that proceeding.

When the FCC created the lower 700 MHz Band Plan, it placed mobile broadband A, B and C Block spectrum adjacent to spectrum used for broadcast television, most significantly, Channel 51 stations.  This created substantial interference issues (as well as build out issues due to exclusion zones created around Channel 51 license areas), particularly for A Block license holders, due to the presence of high powered broadcast signals in nearby spectrum. 

At auction, markets being what they are, those disadvantages impacted the value of the A Block spectrum, which was sold at a significant discount to other available spectrum.  While many regional and smaller competitors purchased A Block licenses, AT&T avoided the A Block and instead purchased licenses at auction and in the secondary market in the B and C bands.  Almost immediately after the auction ended, however, the purchasers of the A Block licenses began arguing that any handset used by AT&T to receive B or C Block signals should also be capable of operating on the A Block as well, making all of the spectrum bands “interoperable” – thus the name for our proceeding.  Those carriers asserted that handset manufacturers would never make devices just for them, and that the only way they would be able to obtain the latest and greatest technology would be if they could piggy-back on AT&T’s supposedly greater purchasing power.

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AT&T Statement on Call for
700 MHz Interoperability Mandate

Posted by: AT&T Blog Team on January 7, 2013 at 4:26 pm

Today, Reps. Anna G. Eshoo (D-Calif.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Mike Doyle (D-Penn.) and Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) sent a letter to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski calling for interoperability in the lower 700 MHz band.  The following may be attributed to Tim McKone, AT&T Executive Vice President of Federal Relations:

“The latest call for interoperability in the lower 700 MHz band again fails to address the main issue: the interference caused from the adjacent Channel 51 television stations.  That interference is the main reason there has been such little deployment to date by A Block license holders.  Forcing carriers to place interfering radios in their smartphones will result in less efficient spectrum utilization and, importantly, a poor consumer experience. 

“A successful incentive auction will resolve interference issues created by the presence of Channel 51 broadcasters and remove the impediment for carriers to fully embrace lower 700 MHz integration.  And if we can find a path forward to clearing that spectrum in advance of the auction, we could unlock the value of those licenses even sooner.  But imposing an interoperability mandate in the face of these glaring interference issues would be bad for consumers and the marketplace.”

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The Hard Truth about LTE Mobile Broadband Deployments

Posted by: Joan Marsh on September 13, 2012 at 9:00 am

On Friday, RCA (now CCA) representatives renewed their call for an inappropriate and ineffective technology mandate in the lower 700 MHz band.  I have previously written extensively about the real interference challenges that led to a separate Band Class for the 700 MHz lower B and C blocks, but I write again to address their newest assertions.

In a News Release, the interoperability alliance said: “Every user of the over 325 million mobile users in the United States relies upon wireless services to communicate, conduct commerce, and to keep us safe — but before they can communicate with one another, their devices must work across multiple networks.  The interoperability of mobile devices from network to network is critical to fulfill the promise of next-generation 4G/LTE wireless services . . . .”

As with most of RCA’s advocacy on this issue, that statement is glibly misleading and glosses over the complexity of current LTE deployments.

First, the over 300 million commercial mobile users in the United States already can communicate with one another.  Wireless carriers have long interconnected with each other and to suggest otherwise is ridiculous.

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