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FCC chairman green-lights AT&T's use of WCS spectrum for LTE with proposed order

AT&T is close to securing a major victory in its battle against the spectrum crunch. While it's not quite a done deal, FCC chairman Genachowski has submitted a proposed order to FCC commissioners that would authorize AT&T's deployment of its LTE service within a 20MHz portion of the 2.3GHz (WCS) band. The deal is unique in that the spectrum is currently reserved for satellite radio, and the reallocation would mark the first of its kind within the WCS band. As you may recall, AT&T previously conceded to a 5MHz dead zone on both ends of Sirius XM's operating frequency in order to mitigate interference concerns, and it seems the move was sufficient to gain the chairman's support.

Also looming on the FCC's to-do list is the decision of whether to approve AT&T's purchase NextWave and its unused WCS spectrum. If it's any indication, however, Chairman Genachowski seems bullish on the reallocation and has suggested that the agency may authorize another 30MHz of the WCS band for mobile broadband use. AT&T has previously said that it could feasibly deploy LTE over the 2.3GHz spectrum within the next three years. One group fighting the deal is the Competitive Carrier Association, which posits that AT&T's purchase of such a significant chunk of spectrum on the secondary market is anti-competitive in nature. It'll no doubt be interesting to see if the argument gains any traction with the FCC. In the meantime, you can view remarks from the agency's spokesperson after the break.

"Today's action is part of Chairman Julius Genachowski's continued efforts to remove regulatory barriers that limit the flexible use of spectrum, which is one way he has led the Commission towards helping address the continued 'spectrum crunch.' By unleashing 20 megahertz of spectrum now -- and up to 30 megahertz in the future -- the Chairman continues to leave no stone unturned when it comes to maximizing opportunities to refill the mobile spectrum pipeline that had begun to run dry over the last decade. In addition to removing regulatory barriers, the Commission continues to push ahead on innovative spectrum solutions in addition to traditional auctions, including incentive auctions, government-commercial sharing, technology-based opportunities like small cells, and freeing up unlicensed spectrum for innovations like Wi-Fi."