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FCC approves 4G spectrum purchase for AT&T after failed T-Mobile merger

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
On the heels of AT&T's decision to give up on its proposed acquisition of T-Mobile, the Federal Communications Commission has approved the carrier's purchase of 700MHz spectrum from Qualcomm that would be used for its expanding 4G LTE network.

The FCC's green light for the spectrum deal came much sooner than expected, as the agency had previously stated that it would make a decision within 180 days from Nov. 29, MacNN reports. As such, some have viewed the commission's approval as a consolation prize for AT&T because of its failed bid to acquire rival wireless operator T-Mobile.

As a condition for acquiring Qualcomm's spectrum, AT&T will need to protect against interference and permit customers from rival carriers to roam on its network. According to the report, the agreement could take effect by the end of 2011.

AT&T announced that it had reached an agreement with Qualcomm to purchase spectrum licenses in the 700MHz frequency band for $1.925 billion late last year, pending regulatory approval. Qualcomm had used the spectrum for its discontinued FLO TV service.

The FCC revealed in August that it was reviewing the AT&T/T-Mobile merger and AT&T's spectrum license deal with Qualcomm in conjunction with each other. In November, the FCC hinted that it would approve the Qualcomm deal when AT&T withdrew its application to acquire T-Mobile, ostensibly so it could focus on a corresponding lawsuit from the Department of Justice.

AT&T had frequently insisted that insufficient spectrum was the main reason for its interest in T-Mobile. However, lawmakers and regulators recommended that the carrier make use of existing spectrum without eliminating a competitor from the market.

At the start of this year, the carrier announced that it will accelerate its plans to roll out 4G LTE networking nationwide. The company is set to bring 4G connectivity to 70 million customers in 15 markets by the end of 2011.



Rival Verizon Wireless has a several month head start on AT&T after having launched its LTE network last December.

For its part, Apple has held off on releasing an LTE iPhone, preferring instead to let the carriers first get their infrastructure in place. CEO Tim Cook said in April that the first generation of LTE chipsets had required "a lot of design compromises" that the company wasn't willing to make. However, recent reports have suggested that Apple is readying LTE-capable models of its iPad and iPhone, possibly for release as early as next year.
post #2 of 19
Letting rival carriers roam on it's network. That's a good start. The US practice of discrete freq blocks unique to each carrier is horrible for fostering competition.
post #3 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by SailorPaul View Post

Letting rival carriers roam on it's network. That's a good start. The US practice of discrete freq blocks unique to each carrier is horrible for fostering competition.

Yep, it's about as dumb as requiring separate pipes for each ISP wanting to connect to your home, creating the de facto duopoly system we have now.
post #4 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by SailorPaul View Post

Letting rival carriers roam on it's network. That's a good start. The US practice of discrete freq blocks unique to each carrier is horrible for fostering competition.

Huh? How so? You build a network and I build a network, how's that not competition? I agree it'd be much better if there was one super network that all the carriers can use, and then compete for customers.
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post #5 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by dagamer34 View Post

Yep, it's about as dumb as requiring separate pipes for each ISP wanting to connect to your home, creating the de facto duopoly system we have now.

Its not dumb, why should I lease out a network that I built out and maintain so you can buy services from me wholesale and resell it retail when I can just provide the service at full cost and make more money.
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post #6 of 19
Well good for them. This make work out better in the long run AT&T.
post #7 of 19
AT&T should turn around and buy Sprint.

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Proud AAPL stock owner.

 

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post #8 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by SailorPaul View Post

Letting rival carriers roam on it's network. That's a good start. The US practice of discrete freq blocks unique to each carrier is horrible for fostering competition.

Competition in consumerism is an illusion just like safety and privacy. We get partial competition with small business but even they are limited by global corporations. William Gibson's corporate sprawl is here even if we are now in denial. I'm not against corporations but I don't like having to lose my social ethics to use their products.

Only an economic revolution by the people can change this now. IMO it's not going to happen. If you don't believe me, just try to get an effective boycott.
post #9 of 19
AT&T wanted this all along.
post #10 of 19
So this was the carrot offered to AT&T by the FCC, in exchange for dumping the T-Mobile deal (that nobody including their parent corporation want)?

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    AT&T believes their LTE coverage is adequate

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post #11 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by John.B View Post

So this was the carrot offered to AT&T by the FCC, in exchange for dumping the T-Mobile deal (that nobody including their parent corporation want)?

AT&T was willing to lose billions to get this spectrum.
post #12 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post

Huh? How so? You build a network and I build a network, how's that not competition? I agree it'd be much better if there was one super network that all the carriers can use, and then compete for customers.

Simple. If the network you and I build are compatible with one another (i.e. the same kit works), then consumers can easily move from one network to another. If we build incompatible networks (the traditional US way), the equipment (phones) become useless if you switch and this increases the threshold to switch operators, thus reducing competition.

A simple example from another domain would be: Imagine if I came and offered you electricity at 30% lower cost, but offered it at the European 230V/50Hz instead of the US 110V/60Hz because the government wants to segragate operators voltage and frequency-wise. Would you buy?
At least it would provide competition and benefit the consumer via lower prices wouldn't it? The lower priced network is even superior to the higher prices one (lower price and potentially safer to use).

Regs, Jarkko
post #13 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by jahonen View Post

Simple. If the network you and I build are compatible with one another (i.e. the same kit works), then consumers can easily move from one network to another. If we build incompatible networks (the traditional US way), the equipment (phones) become useless if you switch and this increases the threshold to switch operators, thus reducing competition.

As we've seen from CDMA mobile network operators having the same network type and spectrum doesn't mean the devices can be moved between them. And while this is possible with GSM-based devices due to the inclusion of the SIM the devices can still be locked and almost exclusively are in the US. What we still need are consumer laws that, at least, require the operator to unlock the handset after you've completed your contractual obligations.

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post #14 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

As we've seen from CDMA mobile network operators having the same network type and spectrum doesn't mean the devices can be moved between them. And while this is possible with GSM-based devices due to the inclusion of the SIM the devices can still be locked and almost exclusively are in the US. What we still need are consumer laws that, at least, require the operator to unlock the handset after you've completed your contractual obligations.

I'm in the "no locked phones" camp. Having just bought 2 unlocked iPhone 4S phones last month-one for me and one for my son-I was able to sign a 2 year contract with T-Mobile for $60/m. (Unlimited talk/text/data) Which is significantly lower than what I would have paid if I had signed up with AT&T/Sprint/Verizon PLUS my phone is ready for a pay-as-you-go microSIM card when I make my next trip to Europe. I'm free to pretty much do as I wish with MY phone.

Now if only that 3G roaming agreement between T-Mobile and AT&T comes to pass...
post #15 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by jahonen View Post

Simple. If the network you and I build are compatible with one another (i.e. the same kit works), then consumers can easily move from one network to another. If we build incompatible networks (the traditional US way), the equipment (phones) become useless if you switch and this increases the threshold to switch operators, thus reducing competition.

A simple example from another domain would be: Imagine if I came and offered you electricity at 30% lower cost, but offered it at the European 230V/50Hz instead of the US 110V/60Hz because the government wants to segragate operators voltage and frequency-wise. Would you buy?
At least it would provide competition and benefit the consumer via lower prices wouldn't it? The lower priced network is even superior to the higher prices one (lower price and potentially safer to use).

Regs, Jarkko

Good point, but you then run the risk of companies merging thus killing competition and before you can say "but the govt won't allow that" just look at ExxonMobile.
"Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example" Mark Twain
"Just because something is deemed the law doesn't make it just" - SolipsismX
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"Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example" Mark Twain
"Just because something is deemed the law doesn't make it just" - SolipsismX
Reply
post #16 of 19
Hopefully this allows them to improve coverage. Their data coverage is a joke compared to Verizon. In my daily driving in the Philly exurbs, I frequently cannot even get 3G coverage (especially as one goes west and north in Chester County). It's better than it was, but there are still major holes.
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post #17 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by SDW2001 View Post

Hopefully this allows them to improve coverage. Their data coverage is a joke compared to Verizon. In my daily driving in the Philly exurbs, I frequently cannot even get 3G coverage (especially as one goes west and north in Chester County). It's better than it was, but there are still major holes.

AFAIK, that 700MHz spectrum will be 4G LTE only.

   Apple develops an improved programming language.  Google copied Java.  Everything you need to know, right there.

 

    AT&T believes their LTE coverage is adequate

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   Apple develops an improved programming language.  Google copied Java.  Everything you need to know, right there.

 

    AT&T believes their LTE coverage is adequate

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post #18 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by dasanman69 View Post

Huh? How so? You build a network and I build a network, how's that not competition? I agree it'd be much better if there was one super network that all the carriers can use, and then compete for customers.

It is competition, but in an area where there should be no competition. The reality is the Country would benefit from one standard especially since the frequencies are really owned by the government anyway. COmpanies get monopolies on these frequencies for in the grand scheme of things little money.

In the US, companies like AT&T like to hoard the spectrum, which hurts us all. In Europe, if you license the spectrum, you have to use it.
post #19 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post

What we still need are consumer laws that, at least, require the operator to unlock the handset after you've completed your contractual obligations.

I agree with you there. Once you fulfill the contractual obligation that pays the cost of the phone, the carrier should be forced to unlock. You own the phone, and not unlocking it is anti-competitive. I also don't think that companies like AT&T should be allowed to discriminate against certain phones. For instance, if you own an iPhone that is unlocked, AT&T still forces a data plan on you even if you have no desire to use data.
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