AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) said it has started refarming is 2G 1900 MHz PCS spectrum for more advanced wireless services in the New York City area.
The announcement comes a little more than two months after the carrier began notifying customers with 2G-only phones that the changes were coming. AT&T said the refarming will lead to an improvement in customers' overall experience as they upgrade to AT&T's HSPA+ and LTE networks.
"By re-allocating network resources from our 2G network to support our newer, advanced networks, we're moving capacity to support the voice and mobile Internet services our customers want," Tom DeVito, AT&T's vice president and general manager in New York and New Jersey, said in a statement.
AT&T said it has reached out to 2G-only customers to "provide them with more details and a variety of options for upgrading their devices, including discounts on new ones while keeping their mobile numbers. AT&T is encouraging customers to make the move to a better overall experience."
Refarming spectrum is nothing new, but AT&T may be refarming its PCS spectrum in lieu of getting new spectrum from a competitor or through auctions. After regulators blocked AT&T's proposed $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile USA, AT&T said it would have to look to more creative ways to expand its spectrum capacity--and refarming appears to be one of them. AT&T would have acquired massive reserves of AWS spectrum if the T-Mobile deal had gone through, but actually wound up divesting AWS spectrum to T-Mobile as part of a breakup fee when the deal fell apart.
T-Mobile plans to use AT&T's AWS spectrum to aid its deployment of LTE. T-Mobile's intends to deploy HSPA+ in its 1900 MHz spectrum, which it is currently using for 2G GSM services (the carrier's HSPA+ network currently runs on T-Mobile's 1700 MHz AWS spectrum). T-Mobile has said it will continue to support 2G customers as it refarms the spectrum and has no plans to decommission its 2G network.
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