While many consumers of data on cellular networks are having fun with 3G, others are looking forward to the next big thing, 4G.
Two different standards are battling it out for the one that gets adopted, LTE (Long-Term Evolution) and WiMAX.
AT&T has asked the FCC to deny requests by Sprint and Clearwire radio spectrum licenses.
Guess which one AT&T is backing.
AT&T’s request will not impact the upcoming WiMAX launch in Baltimore, but if the licenses are not granted there cannot be a nationwide deployment of WiMAX.
The problem that AT&T has with the deal is that, according to their filing, Sprint and Clearwire are attempting to avoid the FCC’s normal review process by minimizing the current spectrum holdings each has. AT&T says that Sprint and Clearwire’s application was “fatally defective” and should be dismissed.
Sprint and Clearwire, on the other hand, maintain that they have “exhaustively documented all of their spectrum holdings, including a county-by-county breakout and described the myriad public interest benefits of the transaction.”
Similar to the 700MHz auction the FCC held recently, the Canadian government today will begin its own auction for wireless spectrum in the 2GHz range that they’re calling the Advanced Wireless Services spectrum auction.
27 companies are bidding on licenses to operate wireless equipment in different regions. Technologies such as 3G HSPA and 4G WiMAX and LTE (Long Term Evolution) can operate in this band.
The auction could result in a 4th major cellular carrier being created in Canada (currently there are three: Bell, Rogers, and Telus).
For more info check out this press release by Industry Canada.
Verizon was one of the big spenders/winners in the recent FCC auction for the 700MHz.
AT&T, another one of the auction winners, has already announced what their plans are. What does Verizon plan to do?
Looks like roughly the same thing that AT&T will be doing–using it to provide a high-speed 4G LTE network.
Here’s their timetable at this point:
- Finalize standards
- Begin field trials
- Begin network preparations
- Advanced device trails
- Select vendors
- Begin network deployment
- Launch network
- Rapid coverage acceleration to full deployment
When the FCC’s auction for pieces of the 700MHz spectrum was over, AT&T came out as one of the big spenders/winners.
So what do they plan to do with it?
Set a new 4G LTE network.
Ralph dl la Vega, CEO of AT&T Mobility, made the announcement today but don’t expect to see it anytime soon. Beginning in February of 2009 the spectrum will be available for use, but we shouldn’t expect to see widespread commercial deployment until around the year 2012.
The 4G would certainly be nice to see sooner than that, but don’t give up 3G just yet. Next year AT&T has plans to double their 3G speeds up to 7.2Mbps downstream which should keep a lot of us more or less happy until 4G comes hits (assuming you’ll have 3G coverage where you work and play, of course).