AT&T cautions that its WCS spectrum licenses in the C and D Blocks 'remain encumbered'

AT&T (NYSE: T) said its executives met last week with top FCC officials over concerns that the C and D Blocks of AT&T's WCS spectrum licenses are still affected by rules designed to prevent interference with other services.

In a filing submitted this week, the nation's second-largest carrier said five members of the FCC met with Joan Marsh, AT&T's vice president of federal regulatory affairs, to discuss the agency's rules for the 2.3 GHz WCS band. Marsh also met separately with a FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel to "provide an update on plans for continued expansion of service" in that band.

AT&T said the "long history of disputes in the band have largely been resolved," but that the C and D Blocks "remain encumbered by strict limitations" designed to protect SDARS (Satellite Digital Audio Radio Service) and AMT (aeronautical mobile telemetry) offerings. The carrier also said "coordination challenges in these blocks (are) severe given proximity to SDARS services."

AT&T has already started to build out LTE in its WCS bands in some markets, but it's unclear how widespread the rollout is and whether that deployment is in the C and D Blocks. 

The carrier acquired the 2.3 GHz spectrum in a series of deals that were all approved by the FCC in 2012 (AT&T also at that time inked an agreement with Sirius XM to prevent interference between the satellite radio company's broadcasts and LTE in the WCS band). Specifically, AT&T in 2012 purchased 10-20 MHz of WCS A and B Block spectrum in 473 CMAs, covering close to 70 percent of the continental U.S. population; and it purchased 5-10 MHz of WCS C and D Block spectrum in 344 CMAs, covering 54 percent of the continental U.S. population. In 2014 AT&T aborted a plan to use its C and D Block WCS spectrum to build a nationwide network for airplane passengers.

AT&T representatives declined to comment on the filing.

For more:
- see this FCC filing

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