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Feds test public-safety LTE but will cancel 21 700 MHz waivers

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

While the National Institute of Standards and Technology is busily testing products for the planned nationwide LTE public-safety network, 21 municipalities will see their 700 MHz public-safety spectrum rights terminated next month by FCC.

Wireless device testing company Anite announced that its test solutions are being used by NIST to assess the U.S. LTE public-safety network and associated devices. NIST “is working with government agencies and device manufacturers to ensure that any LTE enabled public safety device operates effectively on the soon to be deployed U.S. public-safety LTE network,” said Anite.

The company claims to be responsible for more than 80 percent of all LTE test case verification submissions to 3GPP RAN5 for the PTCRB certification requirements. PTCRB is the certification forum used by North American cellular operators.

Meanwhile, the FCC recently announced the 21 jurisdictions that received public-safety broadband waivers in May 2010 allowing them to lease 700 MHz spectrum from the Public Safety Spectrum Trust (PSST) will see those rights expire on Sept. 2, after which the entities will need to acquire a six-month special temporary authority (STA) from the FCC to continue operating. The FCC said in its order that STAs will be awarded “in very few instances, and only where deployment clearly serves the public interest and will not be detrimental to the Public Safety Spectrum Act’s goals or jeopardize the mandate to deploy a nationwide interoperable public safety broadband network.”

Of the 21 jurisdictions that received broadband waivers, the two most likely to receive the STAs, if they want them, are Charlotte, N.C., and the state of Texas. The commission approved both of those entities’ interoperability showings, which would enable them to deploy and operate public-safety LTE networks under their existing spectrum leases with the PSST.

Before the FCC officially announced its plan, the city of Charlotte deemed the temporary authority scenario as being too risky for the city to continue making investments in its public-safety LTE network. Charlotte has since indicated it is studying the FCC’s order. Texas–in particular Harris County, to which much of Houston belongs–appears bullish on continuing its public-safety LTE effort.

The FCC said it will only issue STAs for existing 700 MHz public-safety broadband spectrum, not the reallocated 700 MHz D-Block spectrum. The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, enacted Feb. 22, established the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) to develop the nationwide public-safety LTE network under an FCC license for both the existing public-safety broadband spectrum (763-769 MHz/793-799 MHz) and the spectrally adjacent D Block (758-763 MHz/788-793 MHz), which the act reallocated to public safety.

In its recent order, the FCC also dismissed all pending 700 MHz broadband waiver requests. The order did not specify procedures for transferring the existing 700 MHz spectrum license from PSST to FirstNet.

For more:
- see this Anite release
- see this FCC order (pdf)
- see this Urgent Communications article
- see this Radio Resource article

 

Top wireless stories of the week ending in 7/20/2012

Friday, July 20th, 2012

AT&T Mobility rolls out shared data plans: Just weeks after Verizon Wireless rolled out its controversial shared data plans, rival and fast follower AT&T Mobility said it will have similar offerings beginning in late August.

Sprint: Clearwire’s LTE will ‘pinpoint’ high-traffic areas: Sprint Nextel’s Iyad Tarazi said the company’s work with Clearwire on LTE will be more efficient and targered than its work with Clearwire on mobile WiMAX.

HLR-driven outages causing network headaches: Recent mobile service interruptions might be a sign of things to come as networks succumb to traffic overloads that disrupt signaling, or they might just reflect the intricacies that can sometimes trip up engineers conducting network tweaks and upgrades.

Rumor: Sprint’s LTE launch perfectly timed for iPhone 5 debut: Sprint Nextel drastically trails the two largest U.S. mobile operators in terms of LTE coverage, but Sprint’s LTE launch, combined with its marketing promise of unlimited data service for smartphones, may have it sitting in the catbird seat over the longer term.

 

Verizon Wireless scores fastest LTE network in a recent speed test

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

Verizon Wireless’ LTE service is the fastest in the country, according to the latest tests from PCMag.com, and AT&T is crying foul over the results.

The publication’s annual test found that while AT&T’s LTE network tended to outpace Verizon’s on download speeds, Verizon beat AT&T by a mile on upload speeds.

Across nationwide markets, Verizon’s LTE network had an average download speed of 8.9 Mbps, slower than AT&T’s average LTE download speed of 13.7 Mbps. But on the upload side, Verizon scored average speeds of about 6.5 Mbps, with AT&T coming in at just 2.9 Mbps.

The slow download speeds lowered AT&T’s overall score, and Verizon came out on top.

That’s where AT&T disagrees.

AT&T claimed in a statement published by PCMag.com that the publication’s testing app has a “technical flaw that understates our 4G LTE upload speeds when a particular version of the Android software is used.”

“This flaw disparately affected AT&T’s upload and overall results,” AT&T said, calling the test’s conclusions “inaccurate.”

PCMag.com said AT&T was “highly involved” in the testing process and that it used “well-established testing software.” All of the smartphones used in the tests of Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile USA ran Android 2.3 instead of a newer version of the operating system.

“It appears that consumers may see faster upload speeds with different versions of the Android operating system,” PCMag.com said.

The tests used Android 2.3 smartphones with dual-core Cortex-A9 processors and the fastest modem offered by the carrier. Software from Sensory was installed on the phones to glean information on connection speeds.

The methodology allowed PCMag to give each operator an even playing field during the testing process. AT&T smartphones used in the tests included the Samsung Galaxy S II and its LTE-capable Samsung Galaxy Note. For Verizon, the tests ran on the Motorola RAZR MAXX, which is compatible with Verizon’s CDMA and LTE networks.

The test spanned 30 cities across the country ranging from New York City to San Francisco. Verizon won speed tests in 19 cities, AT&T came out on top in 10 cities and T-Mobile USA scored highest in suburban markets.

Verizon’s LTE network is available in nearly 260 markets, more than six times the approximately 40 cities covered by AT&T’s LTE network.

 

Source: http://www.wirelessweek.com/News/2012/06/report-vzw-lte-scores-fastest-network/

 

Top wireless stories of the week ending in 6/15/2012

Friday, June 15th, 2012

Brazil’s LTE journey begins; Vivo expected to lead: The first step to a national LTE deployment in Brazil began yesterday with the beginning of spectrum auctions conducted by government regulator Anatel.

Verizon launches ‘Share Everything’ family data plans: Verizon Wireless unveiled its shared data plan pricing, bringing to a close months of speculation about how its plans would be structured and potentially ushering in a new wave of competition over how data plans are priced.

WCDMA voice gets another look as HSPA+ takes off: Both Qualcomm and InToTally are developing methods to make WCDMA voice more efficient so operators can wring out additional spectrum capacity to make room for HSPA and HSPA+ data services.

AT&T’s Stephenson calls for ‘use it or lose it’ provisions on spectrum: AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said the FCC should require spectrum holders to deploy their airwaves more aggressively and should speed up the transfer of spectrum between carriers. He also pushed for federal rules that would allow carriers to more quickly build new cell sites.

Apple adds cellular data support for FaceTime video chatting: Apple said that for the first time, iPhone and iPad users who use its new iOS 6 software will be able to make video calls using its FaceTime service over cellular data connections. Previously, FaceTime had been limited to Wi-Fi connectivity.

 

AT&T interested in Verizon’s 700 MHz Lower A and B Block spectrum

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said his company is interested in purchasing Verizon Wireless’ 700 MHz Lower A and B Block spectrum, radio waves that Verizon has proposed selling if it gets regulatory approval to purchase AWS spectrum from a group of cable companies.

Speaking at an event held at the Brookings Institution, Stephenson said that “of course” AT&T is interested in the spectrum. “The Spectrum that Verizon has commented on that they’d be selling pairs perfectly with ours,” he said during a question and answer session. “If we were to have access to that spectrum we could put it to work in 60 days. In 60 days that would be up and running and hot.”

The statement marks the first time AT&T, which already owns Lower B Block spectrum, has publicly declared that it is interested in the spectrum – though analysts have suspected it might be a buyer. U.S. Cellular, which owns Lower A Block spectrum, is the only other carrier to so far publicly state its interest. In an FCC filing in late May, Verizon stated that it had attracted interest from 36 potential buyers of the spectrum.

During the event, Stephenson said that the government needs to find ways to push spectrum holders to make the most effective use of the spectrum they own–or to encourage them to sell it to a company that will. “This is not an industry that is lacking for capital investment. The thing that’s going to cause it to slow is just the availability of spectrum,” he said.

The AT&T chief also said that the incentive auctions for TV broadcast spectrum Congress authorized in February are a positive step, but that it will take six to eight years to get that spectrum into the market with suitable devices. In the meantime, he said, the FCC should generally approve spectrum transfers between companies within 60 to 90 days.

Finally, Stephenson said the regulatory and zoning process for deploying cell sites needs to be smoothed. “It is like a bad trip to the doctor to get zoning and permitting for a cell site,” he said. “It is no less painful to get zoning and permitting for a smaller cell site. That’s where the cost and the delay for all of this comes to a grinding halt.”

 

Source: http://www.fiercewireless.com/story/att-interested-verizons-700-mhz-lower-and-b-block-spectrum/2012-06-12

 
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