updated 06:28 pm EDT, Fri October 5, 2012
Moves may require 3GPP approval to extend LTE standard
According to FCC Director Julius Genachowski, the FCC has plans underway to make 300MHz of new spectrum available by 2015 to high-speed mobile carriers. The announcement was made on Thursday during a speech given at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business. The agency is scheduled to auction several parcels of wavelength in the Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) band, including a portion where a commercial user would share the spectrum with government users.
Genachowski also expects the FCC to sell licenses in the next year for the AWS-2 H-Block to fund a nationwide public safety network and to assist with the federal debt. Dish Network may benefit from another FCC plan to lift restrictions on 40MHz of satellite spectrum for a land-based LTE network, but if the AWS-2 H-Block auction is completed, then the Dish Network spectrum would be moved up by 5MHz, slightly altering the LTE standard and requiring 3GPP approval for the shift.
Another possibility for future bandwidth comes from the L-band of the LTE spectrum, normally reserved for satellite communications. Genachowski stated that the agency was "working with stakeholders," primarily bankrupt LightSquared, to free up that portion of the spectrum previously planned for a nationwide LTE network.
"No one's going to notice a difference next year because of what he's announcing today," bandwidth analyst Tim Farrar said. Farrar doesn't expect new network construction or better performance from the moves for two to three years following completion of transaction.
The remarks come less than a week since the FCC announced a period of public comment on a plan to re-allocate wireless spectrum by acquiring it from television broadcasters. The reverse auction process will allow the FCC to rearrange the remaining broadcasters on the spectrum to make larger blocks available for other uses, such as existing wireless internet technology, or other future technologies. Unallocated spectrum will be placed up for auction, with the government expecting to make more money on the auction that it did buying the bandwidth freed by the shift to digital broadcasting.