RF Shorts for Nov. 15, 2012

AT&T Nears LTE Coverage Goal Without T-Mobile Spectrum

Karl Bode at DSLReports.com, writesGuess AT&T Didn't Need T-Mobile to Reach 97% LTE After All. In the article, he calls into question AT&T’s need for the additional T-Mobile spectrum. Bode explains, “AT&T says that their LTE network expansion will result in 97 percent of the customers in the country being able to get the service. David Goldman over at CNN (who are you and what have you done with CNN?) appears to be the only tech journalist to remember that AT&T insisted they wouldn’t be able to obtain the level of coverage without acquiring T-Mobile.”

In its FCC filing to acquire T-Mobile, AT&T it said that without T-Mobile, it was “very unlikely” that it would expand 4G-LTE service beyond the 80 percent coverage threshold it had planned to reach by 2013. Bode says “The FCC called AT&T’s bluff. It released a damning report on the scuttled merger saying it believed AT&T would expand its 4G deployment with or without T-Mobile. AT&T hit the roof, complaining that the FCC's analysis directly contradicted AT&T’s ‘documents and sworn declarations.’ It got particularly irate about the FCC’s prediction– based purely on speculation–that AT&T would eventually expand its LTE deployment to 97 percent of the population even if it didn't get T-Mobile.”

What's particularly interesting is the network build-out to achieve the 97 percent coverage will take only $8 billion of their network expansion budget, a fraction of the $39 billion price for acquiring T-Mobile. Of course, that would have also eliminated a national competitor.

Canada Readies For White Space Devices

ITWorldCanada.com reports . Howard Solomon writes, “Following the lead of the United States, Industry Canada has agreed to allow unlicensed devices to use the so-called white space spectrum between television channels for unlicensed broadband uses.”

Solomon notes, “It would ideal for bringing high-speed Internet access to remote communities, boosting wireless broadband within businesses and homes or for offloading traffic from crowded cellular networks, as Wi-Fi does now. However, it will depend on how fast the network and TV white space device makers move to create an infrastructure to exploit the opportunity. It is hoped equipment makers will see this as a mass market opportunity, which would lower the cost of operator equipment and end-user devices such as modems and wireless access points.”

Considering the large rural areas in Canada, I would expect sufficient spectrum for white space networks, unlike the more congested areas in the United States. Also, at least so far, Canada is not facing a “repacking” of its UHF TV spectrum. White space devices in rural areas will, however, have to share spectrum with rural remote broadcasting systems, another fixed wireless service.

Comments and RF related news items are welcome. E-mail me at Canada closer to unlicensed ‘white space’ broadbanddlung@transmitter.com.

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.