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AT&T Preparing to Deploy 2.3GHz WCS Spectrum for LTE this year

March 30, 2015 - Written By Alexander Maxham

AT&T is looking to beef up their LTE network. As we’ve seen with Verizon already, AT&T is starting to run out of space or bandwidth, for all their customers. Which means they need to make more room, and using more spectrum, or bands, will help. Additionally 2GHz and higher bands hold more bandwidth for networks, which is why Sprint’s 2.5GHz spectrum is in high demand right now. AT&T is looking to start deploying their 2.3GHz WCS spectrum for their LTE network in the summer, and continue through 2016.

AT&T’s Senior Vice President of Network and Product Planning, Tom Keathley, stated that within the next few months, AT&T is expecting to start altering its network gear in some markets to get deployment off the ground. AT&T has been saying for quite a while that it was planning on deploying this spectrum in 2015. But hadn’t given any more information on when that would happen. “It’s proceeding quite well,”Keathley stated at an interview at AT&T’s wireless headquarters. “You’ll likely see us start the deployment this summer. And then of course that deployment will ramp through the year on into 2016 and beyond.”

While it’s great to see the 2.3GHz spectrum getting deployed this year, what about devices that support that band? According to Keathley, AT&T has mobile handsets in their pipeline that will support the new spectrum. But they didn’t say if any of their currently offered devices supported the 2.3GHz spectrum.

You may remember that back in 2012, AT&T had acquired about $600 million worth of additional WCS spectrum from NextWave. The company also made deals with Sprint, to purchase all of their WCS spectrum licenses. Previously, AT&T had planned to use some of the spectrum to offer in-flight WiFi services. But the company decided against that, and scrapped the plan last year.

Keathley said that it won’t be a huge undertaking to roll out the 2.3GHz spectrum, as all of the antennas that the company has deployed in recent months are “broadband antennas” and include support for the WCS spectrum. Which means adding the 2.3GHz support is as easy as adding another remote radio head at cell sites.