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Businesses Wireless Networking

AT&T To Pay $1.93 Billion For FLO TV Spectrum 72

itwbennett writes "AT&T on Monday announced it is buying from Qualcomm $1.925 billion worth of wireless spectrum that it plans to use for a 4G network. The spectrum was bought by Qualcomm for $125 million and had powered FLO TV."
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AT&T To Pay $1.93 Billion For FLO TV Spectrum

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  • by hazydave ( 96747 ) on Tuesday December 21, 2010 @10:45AM (#34627952)

    Both UHF and VHF get attenuated, not entirely blocked, by objects: trees, houses, skyscrapers, etc... and both diffract around said objects. That's why your cellphone works indoors.

    Higher frequency UHF is strongly attenuated by foliage, lower frequency UHF and VHF, no so much. As a digital radio designer, I did a 2.4GHz ISM band radio, narrowband, fairly long range, but it stopped dead at the edge of a forest. My next radio, at 435MHz (used to control robots) went completely through the forest, over a slight hill, and out to a roadway 1/2 mile away.

    That's big reason so much money changed hands in the FCC's 700MHz auction. Verizon nabbed 22MHz there, AT&T 12MHz. So Flo TV's 6MHz, 716-722MHz, may not seem like much, but it boosts AT&Ts 4G band by 50%. They're closing down Flo TV in March, AT&T is expected to launch their LTE-based "4G" (not real 4G yet, but a first step) sometime over the summer. Unless, like everyone else has been, they're six months late.

    There's no value in a 50 mile range for cellular.... no matter how powerful the tower, the handset is still going to be limited to about a watt, maybe less (US cellular devices can run up to 3W, but handsets usually max out a 1W or less... the cell tower actually tweaks the handset's output to something it can hear).

    The 700MHz band is bandwidth limited compared to Sprint, for example.. the Sprint/Clear/Comcast WiMax network has about 90MHz in the 2500MHz band, so they have a higher peak capacity, for sure. But they're going to need more power per cell in cities, if not more cells, to get into buildings. And they're going to have issues with rural coverage -- as Sprint and T-Mobile already do for 2G and 3G. They're limited to 1900MHz, while AT&T and Verizon both have slots at both 850MHz and 1900MHz. My house is centered in 26 acres of forest. I can get Verizon in my cellar, AT&T though most of the house, but T-Mobile is pretty much outdoors only, while Sprint, last I checked, is available at the end of my driveway.

    Of course, you can always deal with the limited bandwidth issue by using more, lower powered cells in highly populated areas. The only real fix for the higher frequency stuff outside of high population areas is more cells, something historically just never done by these guys,

  • by hazydave ( 96747 ) on Tuesday December 21, 2010 @11:36AM (#34628528)

    LTE supports 81.6Mb/s and 200 active data clients on a 5MHz channel, using 4x4 MIMO, 43.2Mb/s with 2x2 MIMO. Not quite as bad as you let on here. Obviously, if you had 200 data users on a cell, they're not all getting the high speed they're after... but no different than the 3G situation -- about 21Mb/s via HSPA or 56Mb/s with HSPA+ (2x2 MIMO and 64QAM).

    AT&T has actually been buying up 700MHz spectrum for years now. Along with the national Block B 12MHz they bought at FCC Auction 73, they own up to 12MHz of Block C from some of these other purchases... I hadn't realized they bought Aloha Partners sometime back in 2007. So that's up to 24MHz in some areas, even before you factor in this new 6MHz block. LTE doesn't support more than 20MHz per channel, but in aggregate, AT&T may have up to 480Mb/s of LTE per cell. Not too shabby.

    Verizon has been doing much the same thing... they spent $4.7 billion for the national 700MHz Block C (and a few licenses in Block A as well) they won in Auction 73, 22MHz wide. And another $4.66 billion buying up 700MHz spectrum owned by regional companies... no idea just how much, or where. But both companies are well situated for 4G, and clearly, the scarcity of this commodity is driving the price up. This has Verizon with up to 90MHz of aggregate spectrum in places (3G + 4G), over 45MHz through most of the country.

    It'll be interesting to see if Echostar hangs on to their 6MHz Block E ($722 million), given they could better than double their money on it now. And the FCC still plans to run the Block D auction again, probably next year (Block D has to be shared with public service use).

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