AT&T starts using PCS spectrum for LTE service

AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) is starting to refarm its 1900 MHz PCS spectrum for LTE service in New York City, according to a GigaOM report.

The report, citing signals picked up by a reader, notes that AT&T has a 5x5 MHz LTE network running in the 1900 MHz band, which previously contained only HSPA and GSM signals. An AT&T spokesman did not immediately have a comment.

That AT&T is refarming its PCS radio waves for more advanced services should not be a surprise. Indeed, as GigaOM notes, AT&T revealed in an August FCC filing that it would be doing so this year.

"AT&T is in the process of deploying PCS spectrum for LTE service, and will begin commercial LTE service in that band in the initial markets (e.g. , Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Dallas, Philadelphia, New York City and San Francisco) by the end of this year," William Hogg, AT&T's senior vice president of network planning and engineering, wrote in the FCC filing. "AT&T also plans to cover 300 million people by the end of 2013 with its 4G HSPA+ service, which uses PCS spectrum, as well as cellular spectrum."

Indeed, AT&T has been busy refarming its PCS spectrum since mid-2012. AT&T plans to shut down its 2G network by 2017.

The refarming taking place in New York City and other markets for LTE won't necessarily give customers there a speed boost since it is only a 5x5 MHz configuration, but it will provide AT&T more capacity to handle LTE devices.

Other carriers are refarming and deploying extra spectrum for added capacity. Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) said in June that it expects to be able to refarm some of its PCS spectrum for LTE in 2015. Verizon also recently started deploying LTE services on its AWS spectrum to boost capacity.

Sprint (NYSE:S) is refarming its 800 MHz iDEN spectrum for CDMA voice and LTE service, and has said it will use those radio waves, along with its 1900 MHz LTE and 2.5 GHz LTE, to deliver faster speeds.

T-Mobile was a leader in refarming, partly by necessity as a path to launch LTE, and now says it has 203 million POPs covered for HSPA+ service on its PCS spectrum. The carrier began its efforts to makes HSPA+ service available on PCS spectrum in September 2012.

For more:
- see this GigaOM article

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