Summary:

The compromise plan turns a worthless hunk of airwaves into prime cellular real estate, while protecting neighboring satellite radio from interference. AT&T now just needs to consolidate the remaining 2.3 GHz licenses out there so it can build its new LTE network.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski

AT&T has received the final approval it needs to create a nationwide 4G band for its own private consumption. On Wednesday, the Federal Communications Commission voted 5-0 in favor of Chairman Julius Genachowski’s proposal to turn previously useless 2.3 GHz Wireless Communications Services (WCS) airwaves into a band fit for LTE.

As I’ve explained in previous posts, the big problem with WCS was the potential interference a high-powered cellular network would wreck upon Sirius XM’s neighboring satellite radio signals. But AT&T and Sirius hashed out a compromise that would turn 10 MHz of the WCS airwaves into a guard bands on either side of Sirius’s spectrum, ensuring that Ozzy’s Boneyard and Howard Stern would remain protected from AT&T terrestrial mobile data signals. AT&T is then left with 20 MHz of spectrum free and clear.

The only remaining obstacle for AT&T is to consolidate the remaining WCS airwaves still owned by other operators. For Ma Bell’s plan to work it effectively has to own the entire spectrum band.

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