The FCC's decision to license AWS-3 spectrum bands in more 5x5 MHz blocks than originally contemplated has generated praise from smaller carriers, though Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility are still likely going to be the major bidders in the spectrum auction scheduled for this fall.
The FCC voted to move forward with rules for the auction of AWS-3 spectrum later this fall, in what will be the most significant and sizable auction of airwaves since the 700 MHz auction in 2008. Wireless carriers have been clamoring for years for the spectrum, but many technical rules for how some spectrum will be shared with federal users still need to be worked out. And though Verizon Wireless and AT&T are likely going to be major bidders in the AWS-3 auction, smaller carriers could grab some airwaves as well.
Despite wireless operators offering a variety of pricing discounts to some customers, the pricing turmoil in the market has not really impacted the Tier 1 carriers' bottom lines, according to analysts at New Street Research. In fact, the analysts say carriers are set to report stronger-than-expected quarterly subscribers for the first quarter, thanks in large part to booming tablet subscription adoptions.
As the FCC works to finalize rules for next year's incentive auctions of 600 MHz broadcast TV spectrum, the lobbyists who work for the Tier 1 wireless carriers are seeing a booming industry.
AT&T Mobility is shutting down its location-based "Alerts" text-message-based marketing program at the end of the month and plans to release an updated version of the service later this year.
Verizon Wireless and Dish Network are battling over whether the forthcoming auction of AWS-3 spectrum should include rules that require interoperability with Dish's AWS-4 airwaves.
T-Mobile US warned the FCC not to structure the upcoming AWS-3 spectrum auction in such a way that it would tilt the playing field toward AT&T and Verizon Wireless. AT&T recently praised a tentative, but not final, license structure and band plan for the auction.
AT&T is cheering the FCC's proposed plans for the forthcoming AWS-3 spectrum auction, but the FCC's rules for spectrum license size and band plan are not yet final or public.
Next week the Competitive Carriers Association kicks off its annual spring show, this time in San Antonio, Texas, and attendees can expect keynote presentations from SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son and Roger Sherman, the new chief of the FCC's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau. (Sherman is filling in for FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, who was scheduled to keynote the CCA event but instead now has to testify before Congress.) And key topics at the CCA event will include how to ensure smaller carriers can fully participate in the FCC's upcoming spectrum auctions, as well as how LTE roaming will work, whether competitive carriers will be able to offer Voice over LTE technology, and how they can offload data to Wi-Fi networks.
AT&T Mobility is rolling out a new advertising campaign called "Better Network" aimed at illustrating how exactly it is improving coverage and capacity on its wireless network.