AT&T Mobility plans to start deploying 2.3GHz Wireless Communications Services (WCS) spectrum for Long Term Evolution (LTE) use commencing this summer, according to Tom Keathley, senior vice president of network and product planning. In an interview with Fierce Wireless, Mr Keathley revealed that the rollout will commence in the coming months and continue into 2016. The spectrum will primarily be used to add extra capacity to AT&T’s network and will be deployed in densely populated, urban areas.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, August 2012 saw AT&T agree a deal worth up to USD600 million to acquire San Diego-based spectrum holding company NextWave Wireless, a major holder of 2.3GHz WCS frequencies. The deal effectively combined the nation’s two largest WCS spectrum holders (AT&T being the largest). Subsequently, May 2014 saw AT&T ink an agreement to purchase 19 WCS licences from Sprint Corp; the concessions covered a number of locations across the South, including markets in Florida, Louisiana, Texas, Alabama and Georgia.
WCS spectrum was first auctioned in 1997, but has never been utilised for mobile broadband usage due to technical rules designed to avoid possible interference with satellite radio users in adjacent spectrum bands. Encouragingly for AT&T, October 2012 saw the FCC unanimously approve changes to the 2.3GHz WCS band that would effectively allow AT&T to utilise the spectrum for LTE network deployment.