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Wednesday December 19, 2012 2:20 pm

AT&T pick up WCS spectrum for LTE expansion

at&t lte spectrum

The airwaves are running out, and you may've noticed it from the data diet your phone company has probably went on, or from the inability to send texts from busy areas in the city.

The FCC has approved the transfer of 608 spectrum licenses to AT&T that cover about 82 percent of the US population. Don't start streaming those 1080p movies from your data plan just yet, as the new spectrum isn't going in effect any time soon. It'll be years before any of us can take advantage of it, we're afraid.

The spectrum in question is part of the Wireless Communications Service band (WCS), which has been in cryo sleep since its auctioning from the FCC in 1997. A big part of the reason it's just been sitting there is because the spectrum is adjacent the spectrum Sirius XM uses for its services. Because of this, there have been concerns over whether or not use of the WCS spectrum will interfere with Sirius XM.

AT&T and Sirius XM have came to an agreement earlier this year that allows LTE to be used within the spectrum without interference. The FCC signed off on the deal in October. Today, AT&T has gotten FCC approval of its license transfers and now it has to get support for WCS with hardware supplies and component supplies, as well as test the network. All in all, it'll be "approximately three years," according to AT&T, before we see a new spectrum lane open up.

In the meantime, AT&T is going to begin phasing out 2G to make room for more 3G, and will start launching LTE on the AWS band.

Read More | FCC

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