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Analysis: For AT&T, It’s All About The Spectrum

WASHINGTON March 29, 2011 – With the acquisition of T-Mobile, AT&T may be not only solving a long standing question about where it would find the spectrum to deploy its planned 4G network, but also make a leap in its public image.

Currently, AT&T uses a band of spectrum not supported by any other carrier in the world, meaning handsets must be specially made for the carrier. Both T-Mobile and AT&T use the same base technology, but the two carriers run their 3G networks on different bands of spectrum. The acquisition of T-Mobile would greatly increase the amount of spectrum and infrastructure that AT&T would possess, bringing service to a greater number of Americans.

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WASHINGTON March 29, 2011 – With the acquisition of T-Mobile, AT&T may be not only solving a long standing question about where it would find the spectrum to deploy its planned 4G network, but also make a leap in its public image.

Currently, AT&T uses a band of spectrum not supported by any other carrier in the world, meaning handsets must be specially made for the carrier. Both T-Mobile and AT&T use the same base technology, but the two carriers run their 3G networks on different bands of spectrum. The acquisition of T-Mobile would greatly increase the amount of spectrum and infrastructure that AT&T would possess, bringing service to a greater number of Americans.

For example, T-Mobile is currently far ahead of AT&T on building HSPA+, an intermediate 4G technology that fits right between the carriers’ existing 3G networks and Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology. Immediately, AT&T  would be able to improve it’s current 3G speed and coverage by redeploying the infrastructure to speed up and widen its 3G coverage.

Long term, AT&T has focused on building its next-generation LTE infrastructure, but has fallen behind Verizon in actually deploying the technology. If the T-Mobile acquisition goes forward, AT&T would be able to re allocate the spectrum it acquires from T-Mobile and expand its LTE service more rapidly,  closing the gap that Verizon is currently widening.

AT&T confirmed this plan in a call with investors following the announcement of the potential acquisition. The company’s roadmap calls for eventually moving T-Mobile’s subscribers off the 1700 megahertz  3G spectrum they currently occupy.  AT&T will then combine this spectrum with other availible spectrum it already owns to make LTE service available to an estimated 95 percent of Americans. The projected roadmap calls for this network to be fully in place by 2013, making the deal imperative to AT&T’s competitiveness, as spectrum is a large part of what has been missing from the carrier’s past plans.

Spectrum, therefore, is the keystone to AT&T’s future. The company’s plan to acquire T-Mobile utilizes the current assets T-Mobile possesses that will improve and expand AT&T’s network and give a definite shape shape to it’s future plans. AT&T suffered blows to its public image in the last year from numerous directions: losing iPhone exclusivity, the unpopular introduction of capped data plans, and repeated issues with call reliability. The acquisition of T-Mobile would allow AT&T to cultivate an image of a faster, newer network with a larger amount of available spectrum, possibly placing it ahead of its closest competitor Verizon.

Although he declined to comment specifically on the deal, FCC chairman, Julius Genachowski, echoed his long held sentiment about the importance of spectrum while at the CTIA Wireless trade show in Orlando last week: “Spectrum is the oxygen that allows all of these mobile innovations to breathe. Whether or not most Americans know the physics of spectrum, they know what it feels like to have a dropped call or a slow connection or cranky Wi-Fi.”

And it looks like that is what this deal is about: AT&T’s need for more spectrum both technologically and in the public perception.

 

Nate Hakken is a native of Washington, DC. As the son of two itinerant academics, Nate spent much of his childhood living in England and Scandinavia. He has a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College, as well as a J.D. from Vermont Law School, where he studied Internet and technology law. Nate is a jack-of-all-trades, having worked as a sound engineer, teacher, camp director, outdoor adventure guide, and medical researcher. Outside of work, he is an avid cyclist who competes across the Mid-Atlantic and has been known to play the guitar when asked nicely.

FCC

Cable Group NCTA Says Deny Exclusive Multitenant Access, But Not Wiring, Agreements

NCTA said the FCC should deny exclusive access to these buildings, but not exclusive wiring agreements.

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Michael Powell, president and CEO of NCTA

WASHINGTON, September 8, 2021 – The internet and television association NCTA is suggesting that the Federal Communications Commission deny all broadband providers exclusive access to multitenant buildings, but to continue allowing exclusive wiring agreements.

On Tuesday, the FCC opened a new round of comments into its examination of competitive broadband options for residents of apartments, multi-tenant and office buildings.

In a Tuesday ex parte notice to the commission, which follows a formal meeting with agency staff on September 2, the NCTA said the record shows that deployment, competition, and consumer choice in multiple tenant environments “are strong,” and that the FCC can “promote even greater deployment and competition by prohibiting not just cable operators, other covered [multiple video programming distributors], and telecommunications carriers, but all broadband providers from entering into MTE exclusive access agreements.

The organization, whose member companies include Comcast, Cox Communications and Charter Communications, also said it should continue to allow providers to enter into exclusive wiring agreements with MTE owners. Wiring just means that the provider can lay down its cables, like fiber, to connect residents.

“Exclusive wiring agreements do not deny new entrants access to MTEs. Rather, exclusive wiring agreements are pro-competitive and help ensure that state-of-the-art wiring will be deployed in MTEs to the benefit of consumers.”

The NCTA also told the FCC that there would be technical problems with simultaneous sharing of building wires by different providers and vouched for exclusive marketing arrangements, according to the notice.

The FCC’s new round of comments comes after a bill, introduced on July 30 by Rep. Yvette Clarke, D-New York, outlined plans to address exclusivity agreements between residential units and service providers, which sees providers lock out other carriers from buildings and leaving residents with only one option for internet.

Reached for comment on the filing, a spokesman for NCTA said they had nothing to add to the filing, which was signed by Mary Beth Murphy, deputy general counsel to the cable organization.

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China

Hytera’s Inclusion on FCC’s National Security Blacklist ‘Absurd,’ Client Says

Diversified Communications Group said the FCC flubbed on adding Hytera to blacklist.

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Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel

WASHINGTON, September 8, 2021 – A client of a company that has been included in a list of companies the Federal Communications Commission said pose threats to the security of the country’s networks is asking the agency to reconsider including the company.

In a letter to the commission on Tuesday, Diversified Communications Group, which installs and distributes two-way radio communications devices to large companies, said the inclusion of Hytera Communications Corporation, a Chinese manufacturer of radio equipment, on a list of national security threats is “absurd” because the hardware involved is not connected to the internet and “does not transmit any sensitive or proprietary data.

“It seems that Hytera has been lumped in with other Chinese companies on the Covered List simply because they happen to manufacture electronics in the same country,” Diversified’s CEO Ryan Holte said in the letter, adding Hytera’s products have helped Diversified’s business thrive.

“This is a wrong that should be righted. Hytera is not a national security risk. They are an essential business partner to radio companies throughout the U.S.,” the CEO added.

In March, the FCC announced that it had designated Hytera among other Chinese businesses with alleged links to the Communist government. Others included Huawei, ZTE, Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology, and Dahua Technology.

List among a number of restrictions on Chinese companies

This list of companies was created in accordance with the Secure Networks Act, and the FCC indicated that it would continue to add companies to the list if they are deemed to “pose an unacceptable risk to national security or the security and safety of U.S. persons.”

Last month, the Senate commerce committee passed through legislation that would compel the FCC to no longer issue new equipment licenses to China-backed companies.

Last year the U.S. government took steps to ensure that federal agencies could not purchase goods or services from the aforementioned companies, and had previously added them to an economic blacklist.

In July, the FCC voted in favor of putting in place measures that would require U.S. carriers to rip and replace equipment by these alleged threat companies.

The Biden administration has been making moves to isolate alleged Chinese-linked threats to the country’s networks. In June, the White House signed an executive order limiting investments in predominantly Chinese companies that it said poses a threat to national security.

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Digital Inclusion

FCC Says 5 Million Households Now Enrolled in Emergency Broadband Benefit Program

The $3.2 billion program provides broadband and device subsidies to eligible low-income households.

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Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel

August 30, 2021—The Federal Communications Commission announced Friday that five million households have enrolled in the Emergency Broadband Benefit program.

The $3.2-billion program, which launched in May, provides a broadband subsidy of $50 per month to eligible low-income households and $75 per month for those living on native tribal lands, as well as a one-time reimbursement on a device. Over 1160 providers are participating, the FCC said, who are reimbursed the cost to provide the discounted services.

The agency has been updating the public on the number of participating households for the program. In June, the program was at just over three million and had passed four million last month. The program was part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021.

“Enrolling five million households into the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program in a little over three months is no small feat,” said FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “This wouldn’t have been possible without the support of nearly 30,000 individuals and organizations who signed up as volunteer outreach partners.”

Rosenworcel added that conversations with partners and the FCC’s analysis shows the need for “more granular data” to bring these opportunities to more eligible families.

The program’s strong demand was seen as far back as March.

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