AT&T is set to start working on building a network using its WCS spectrum licenses according to analysts at New Street Research as reported by Fiercewireless (source link below). AT&T had scaled back it building efforts in the past several months, mostly due to the recent AWS-3 auction held by the FCC. AT&T most likely wanted to wait to continue building out its network until the completion of the auction to see how the auction would impact their plans for their network moving forward.
To do this, analysts are projecting that AT&T will construct new towers while repurposing possibly as much as 40 percent of the sites that they acquired from their deal with Leap. This will reduce the amount of towers that AT&T will need to construct. They will use these sites to make use of the WCS spectrum that they acquired from NextWave which will be capable of covering a projected 80 percent of the United States. AT&T had made plans to utilize this spectrum to provide an in-flight Wi-Fi service, however those plans have been canceled and it would appear as if AT&T will not utilize this spectrum for LTE service.
The analysts also expect that Sprint will make efforts to expand its LTE network by revealing a new network plan. This plan is projected to add new coverage sites, including more urban sites and adding new small cells. They are also expected to make upgrades to their Clearwire 2.5Ghz sites making them CDMA sites. They may also use some older iDEN sites that they were considering decommissioning. These projections are consistent with reports from earlier in February, where it was reported that Sprint would add over 25 new markets to their coverage area.
These reports are good news for American consumers as they will extend LTE to new areas while bolstering sites that are becoming crowded. Both Sprint and AT&T should begin ramping things up soon. This may also be good news for some MVNOs who use Sprint’s new network as it should help them extend their customer base for the non-contract market. We will just have to wait and see if these additions improve coverage and quality for customers in the areas that these companies seek to expand.