AT&T bolsters 4G network plans with $1.9B spectrum purchase

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
AT&T, the exclusive U.S. wireless carrier of Apple's iPhone, announced on Monday that it has agreed to purchase $1.925 billion worth of wireless spectrum from Qualcomm for its forthcoming 4G network.



AT&T has agreed to purchase spectrum licenses from Qualcomm in the lower 700 MHz frequency band. The $1.925 acquisition is said to bolster AT&T's ability to provide an advanced 4G mobile broadband service "in the years ahead," the company said in a press release.



The spectrum being sold to AT&T is currently licensed to FLO TV, but that agreement with Qualcomm is expected to be shut down in March 2011.



The available spectrum acquired by AT&T covers more than 300 million people total nationwide. 12 MHz of lower 700 MHz D and E block spectrum is accessible by more than 70 million people in five of the top 15 metropolitan areas, including New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and San Francisco. The remaining 6 Mhz of lower 700 MHz D block spectrum covers more than 230 million people.



AT&T said it intends to deploy the spectrum as "supplemental downlink" once compatible handsets and network equipment are developed. AT&T and Qualcomm anticipate they will close on the sale in the second half of 2011.



While AT&T is still building its own 4G network, expected to launch in mid-2011, the company was recently beaten to the punch by its chief rival. Verizon's 4G long-term evolution network debuted earlier this month, offering 10 times faster download speeds in 38 metropolitan areas and more than 60 commercial airports across the U.S.



AT&T will partner with Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson to build out its LTE network, which will deliver higher broadband throughput and lower latency than the company's existing 3G network. But even before AT&T's 4G launches, the company has touted that its existing 3G network is 20 to 60 percent faster than its competitors.



In August, AppleInsider revealed that Qualcomm was looking to hire an "iPhone Developer Guru" for a "secret" project. The company is also rumored to be the supplier of CDMA chips for a rumored impending Verizon iPhone launch.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 40
    Verizon's way ahead of the game! If AT&T were smart they would have leveraged $1.5 billion in tax payer money to build out a 4G network like Verizon did. See guys, Verizon not only gets your monthly payments, but also your tax dollars... By far the best value! http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/articl...ut-2010-12.DTL
  • Reply 2 of 40
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jallenbentley View Post


    Verizon's way ahead of the game! If AT&T were smart they would have leveraged $1.5 billion in tax payer money to build out a 4G network like Verizon did. See guys, Verizon not only gets your monthly payments, but also your tax dollars... By far the best value! http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/articl...ut-2010-12.DTL



    Welcome to the forum, Jallen.



    Verizon is only "ahead of the game” if you define it as implementing the latest marketing buzzwords, but right now LTE isn’t optimal for cell phones.



    I don’t think any carrier in the world is selling an LTE-capable cellphone at this point; I think they are all cellular modems, and even those are few and far between. That should tell you a lot about the tech.



    The bottom line is that HSPA+ is more tried and true with smaller, more power-efficient chips with top theoretical speeds that aren’t even possible because the technology for it also hasn’t been invented yet to make it feasible, which is the underlying problem with LTE for least this next year.



    Check out the cutting edge 4G phones on Sprint. WiMAX may barely beat out AT&T and T-Mobile’s 3G download speeds (not upload speeds) but it tears right through the the battery to do it. So far, I’ve seen no LTE chips that are small enough or efficient enough to be in a modern smartphone, much less the iPhone, which could easily get a 14.4Mbps/5.78Mbps ‘3G’ chip in the next revision. I’ll take that over some spotty and power hungry ‘4G’ buzzword any day.



    Note, Verizon and Sprint had to jump to the new tech because EV-DO was so far behind HS*PA. GSM-based carriers have the luxury of a smoother, more efficient transition into LTE, which is just the next step for 3GPP.
  • Reply 3 of 40
    s4mb4s4mb4 Posts: 267member
    this seems like a good plan to me. the network already exists, right? All at&t needs to do is fold it into their network and sell some 700 MHz phones....
  • Reply 4 of 40
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post




    The available spectrum acquired by AT&T covers more than 300 million people total nationwide.



    Considering that the US Census Bureau estimated the US population at 307 million last year, that's good coverage (or an inaccurate number).
  • Reply 5 of 40
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Retrogusto View Post


    Considering that the US Census Bureau estimated the US population at 307 million last year, that's good coverage (or an inaccurate number).



    It?s not saying that AT&T has 300M subscribers, but that the spectrum covers that number of people, as you pointed out is correct per last year?s census.
  • Reply 6 of 40
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by jallenbentley View Post


    Verizon's way ahead of the game! If AT&T were smart they would have leveraged $1.5 billion in tax payer money to build out a 4G network like Verizon did. See guys, Verizon not only gets your monthly payments, but also your tax dollars... By far the best value! http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/articl...ut-2010-12.DTL



    Don't be fooled by the marketing "G"s. AT&T's 3G network is currently faster than Verizon's, T-Mobile's, and Sprint's "4G" networks.



    Also, no one has a true 4G Network (As defined by the ITU as 100mbs).
  • Reply 7 of 40
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by noexpectations View Post


    Also, no one has a true 4G Network (As defined by the ITU as 100mbs).



    To be fair, ITU doesn?t have any exclusivity on the term ?4G?. It?s no more true than Verizon referring to it?s 4th generation of cellular evolution as ?4G?. Both need to be qualified to have any real meaning. For instance, the current iPhone is ?4G?, and that?s the truth as it?s the 4th generation iPhone yet doesn?t mean its cellular radio can do 100Mbps+.
  • Reply 8 of 40
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    It?s not saying that AT&T has 300M subscribers, but that the spectrum covers that number of people, as you pointed out is correct per last year?s census.



    It sounds to me that they just added the 230M and the 70M to get 300M, but that would assume that there's no overlap in coverage between the two, right? I'm no expert here, it just sounded unlikely.
  • Reply 9 of 40
    solipsismsolipsism Posts: 25,726member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Retrogusto View Post


    It sounds to me that they just added the 230M and the 70M to get 300M, but that would assume that there's no overlap in coverage between the two, right? I'm no expert here, it just sounded unlikely.



    The subject is the spectrum. We can shorten the sentence to say "The available spectrum [?] covers more than 300 million people total nationwide.? without changing its meaning.



    The spectrum itself covers areas now populated by 300M inhabitants of the US. Note that a radio spectrum isn?t necessarily universal to a nation?s natural and artificial boundaries.



    Yes, there is overlap. AT&T will have UMTS coverage from the 850MHz and 1900MHz bands, not to mention their GSM bands.
  • Reply 10 of 40
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by s4mb4 View Post


    this seems like a good plan to me. the network already exists, right? All at&t needs to do is fold it into their network and sell some 700 MHz phones....



    Long wave lengths require less power output. AT&T is smart to buy up this available bandwidth.
  • Reply 11 of 40
    asciiascii Posts: 5,612member
    People always slam these guys but they really seem to be making an effort. $1.9B is not small potatoes.
  • Reply 12 of 40
    While its good to see that ATT has purchased additional spectrum, Do Not be fooled into thinking that this will be implemented a few months from now. This could take a years.

    And as we all know ATT hasn't gotten 3G right yet. So ATT and most of the other carriers embarking on to 4G is just a number.

    Lets all keep in mind that towers and phones have to be equipped with 4G capable chips, bandwith etc to be workable. After ATT releases its 4G network in 2011 must people will see that the difference is negligable.
  • Reply 13 of 40
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by BUSHMAN4 View Post


    While its good to see that ATT has purchased additional spectrum, Do Not be fooled into thinking that this will be implemented a few months from now. This could take a years.

    And as we all know ATT hasn't gotten 3G right yet.



    I usually defend AT&T as being adequate and since they are the only provider for iPhone I can usually put up with the few inconveniences, however, yesterday I was stuck in line at LAX immigration and customs for more than an hour. AT&T has absolutely zero service in that building while the Verizon users were happily chatting away, making ground travel arrangements and checking email, I couldn't even get my iPhone to update the timezone.
  • Reply 14 of 40
    better late than never.
  • Reply 15 of 40
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by solipsism View Post


    Welcome to the forum, Jallen.



    Verizon is only "ahead of the game? if you define it as implementing the latest marketing buzzwords, but right now LTE isn?t optimal for cell phones.



    I don?t think any carrier in the world is selling an LTE-capable cellphone at this point; I think they are all cellular modems, and even those are few and far between. That should tell you a lot about the tech.



    The bottom line is that HSPA+ is more tried and true with smaller, more power-efficient chips with top theoretical speeds that aren?t even possible because the technology for it also hasn?t been invented yet to make it feasible, which is the underlying problem with LTE for least this next year.



    Check out the cutting edge 4G phones on Sprint. WiMAX may barely beat out AT&T and T-Mobile?s 3G download speeds (not upload speeds) but it tears right through the the battery to do it. So far, I?ve seen no LTE chips that are small enough or efficient enough to be in a modern smartphone, much less the iPhone, which could easily get a 14.4Mbps/5.78Mbps ?3G? chip in the next revision. I?ll take that over some spotty and power hungry ?4G? buzzword any day.



    Note, Verizon and Sprint had to jump to the new tech because EV-DO was so far behind HS*PA. GSM-based carriers have the luxury of a smoother, more efficient transition into LTE, which is just the next step for 3GPP.



    Thank you for knowing of what you speak and thoughtfully discussing the issue.
  • Reply 16 of 40
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by BUSHMAN4 View Post


    While its good to see that ATT has purchased additional spectrum, Do Not be fooled into thinking that this will be implemented a few months from now. This could take a years.

    And as we all know ATT hasn't gotten 3G right yet. So ATT and most of the other carriers embarking on to 4G is just a number.

    Lets all keep in mind that towers and phones have to be equipped with 4G capable chips, bandwith etc to be workable. After ATT releases its 4G network in 2011 must people will see that the difference is negligable.



    Can you elaborate how AT&T hasn't gotten 3G right? The only issues I've had the past three years have all been edge related. My 3G experience has been great nationwide.
  • Reply 17 of 40
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by ascii View Post


    People always slam these guys but they really seem to be making an effort. $1.9B is not small potatoes.



    Verizon spent about 10 Billion to win the FCC wireless spectrum auction a few years ago.

    If you look at what these companies actually spend on infrastructure, the difference is even more staggering. Verizon spends approximately 20% more per subscriber. AT&T is also spending a disproportionate amount of its money maintaining it's wired network. Verizon is spending more and spending smarter.
  • Reply 18 of 40
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bigdaddyguido View Post


    Can you elaborate how AT&T hasn't gotten 3G right? The only issues I've had the past three years have all been edge related. My 3G experience has been great nationwide.



    Visit the San Fran or the NYC metro area and ask the at&t customers there.

    You literally have to go there because their phones don't work.
  • Reply 19 of 40
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by bigdaddyguido View Post


    Thank you for knowing of what you speak and thoughtfully discussing the issue.



    Normally this would be a very sarcastic remark.
  • Reply 20 of 40
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Johnny Mozzarella View Post


    Verizon spent about 10 Billion to win the FCC wireless spectrum auction a few years ago.

    If you look at what these companies actually spend on infrastructure, the difference is even more staggering. Verizon spends approximately 20% more per subscriber. AT&T is also spending a disproportionate amount of its money maintaining it's wired network. Verizon is spending more and spending smarter.



    To be fair, AT&T also spent 6.6 billion in that auction and now another 1.9 billion. So to add up the expenditures for wireless spectrum:



    Verizon: $9.4 billion

    AT&T: $8.5 billion



    The figures have nothing to do with any wired network infrastructure upgrades although the back haul wired part of the mobile network is a very important factor. 'Spending smarter' remark is subjective.
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