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AT&T Is Concerned Its C & D Block WCS Spectrum Is Still Restricted

February 11, 2016 - Written By Daniel Fuller

For some, the closer March’s FCC spectrum auction draws, the more confusing the wireless, radio and telebroadcasting scenes become. Complicated issues of cross-interference, vacating spectrum, setting spectrum aside and establishing spending limits are coming up left and right as the auction draws near. A great many entities that currently hold spectrum set to be auctioned or spectrum that may interfere with auctioned frequencies, in some cases, are at such a loss that even AT&T agrees that the FCC’s timeframe for them to prepare for the auction, vacate spectrum and prepare it for repurposing is unrealistic. According to an FCC filing, it seems that AT&T has some spectrum issues of their own being brought to the surface as the auction comes closer.

Specifically, AT&T’s Wireless Communications Services spectrum blocks C and D are posing issues stemming from being close enough to bands used for satellite digital audio radio services and aeronautical mobile telemetry to invite the possibility of interference. Because of this, strict regulations to prevent interference to these services are imposed on the bands. In the C band, AT&T is not allowed to operate any wireless services at all. Blocks C & D were originally meant to be used to provide networking for airplane passengers, utilizing the full 5-10MHz that AT&T owned in the blocks, but that plan was scrapped in light of possible interference issues. According to AT&T, disputes over those bands have “largely been resolved”, but the bands are still suffering “coordination challenges” due to “strict limitations” and “proximity to SDARS services.”

Joan Marsh, Brian Benison and a number of other AT&T staff met with the Wireless Bureau’s Roger Sherman, Brian Reagan, Jean Kiddo, Roger Noel and Linda Chang, as well as Commissioner Rosenworcel and Johanna Thomas, her legal counsel, to discuss the implications of the state of these bands and the possible fixes and concessions. AT&T, who has already begun rolling out LTE in some of their WCS A and B blocks, indicated in the filing that they are interested in expanding their network onto blocks C and D in due time, so long as proper procedures for that can be agreed upon.