Wireless companies in the U.S. are desperate. Desperate to stop losing subscribers? Desperate to boost revenue with fees? Maybe. But the real desperation is in the shrinking amount of spectrum available for wireless services during a time when smartphone use is rocketing.
AT&T (News - Alert) just got a little bit of breathing room. The nation’s number two wireless carrier has bargained for itself an additional 20MHz of spectrum to bolster its LTE network. This week the Federal Communications Commission (FCC (News - Alert)) has approved an agreement between AT&T and satellite radio company Sirius XM Radio that will allow AT&T use some spectrum that Sirius has long warned could interfere with its own services if it were used for mobile data services.
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The partnership between the two companies strikes a compromise: Sirius XM will allow AT&T to use 20MHz of the spectrum in some areas of the country while leaving 10MHz open to avoid potential interference with Sirius broadcasts.
FCC chairman Julius Genachowski (News - Alert) praised the two companies for coming up with a deal that resolved the issues of “a long-troubled band that has evaded easy answers for 15 years.”
This will be a relief to AT&T, which had hoped to gets its hands on additional spectrum through its failed bid to purchase T-Mobile (News - Alert) earlier this year. The FCC and Obama administration blocked the acquisition, citing concerns that the merger would harm consumers by hampering competition. To acquire even more spectrum, AT&T has recently bought spectrum in the 2.3 GHz band from NextWave, Comcast (News - Alert) and Horizon.
Edited by Brooke Neuman