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Spectrum Blog

Allnet Insight’s Top 20 Peak Downlink Throughput Tue, Sep 01, 2015



These graphs detail the peak capacity for downlink files and streaming video for the four major national wireless carriers plus Dish and USCellular.  They illustrate the peak capacity on a market-by-market basis.  In creating the graphs, I anticipate the usage of each wireless carrier’s total spectrum available, not just the spectrum they have dedicated to LTE at this time. These graphs allow you to see the significant capacity advantage that Sprint will have once they deploy their 2.5GHz spectrum. They also provide a market-by-market comparison of AT&T and Verizon capacity.  You can see that AT&T has a capacity advantage versus Verizon in all Top 20 markets except Minneapolis-St. Paul.  In addition, you can see the relatively low capacity that T-Mobile is able to offer and the capacity that Dish could provide after they launch a network. 

I was able to construct these graphs by using Allnet Insights and Analytics Spectrum Ownership Analysis Tool determine the number of LTE channels that each carrier’s spectrum can support.

 Assuming that each LTE channel had the follow achievable LTE Peak Data Rates:

These rates were applied to each of the carriers LTE channels to create a total peak downlink throughput.  For all EBS/BRS spectrum (Sprint’s 2.5GHz spectrum), I assumed TDD (Time Division Duplex) LTE operation and each channel’s throughput was reduced to 75% to reflect the 75:25 downlink to uplink ratio for TDD operation. TDD LTE utilizes a single radio channel to both transmit to the mobile device (downlink) and transmit from the mobile device (uplink). In TDD LTE timeslots, similar to the wedges on the Wheel of Fortune, carry either downlink traffic or uplink traffic during that time interval.  Since internet traffic is typically 75% downlink and 25% uplink, US operators dedicate 75% of the wedges to downlink and 25% to uplink.  Most US spectrum bands are configured for FDD (Frequency Division Duplex) LTE, which utilizes two radio channels, one to transmit to the mobile device (downlink), and one to transmit from the mobile device (uplink).

How does our data compare? T-Mobile’s Magenta Herring – Posted by Joan Marsh, AT&T Thu, Aug 13, 2015


For this issue of “How does our data compare?” we will look at the following statement from Joan Marsh’s blog.  Joan is AT&T's Vice President of Federal Regulatory. 

"For AT&T, the restrictions will predominantly impact our ability to compete for spectrum in urban areas.  Indeed, our preliminary analysis suggests that we will be restricted in all Top 50 markets except six (Cleveland, Phoenix, Virginia Beach, Charlotte, Raleigh and Greenville to be exact).  The restrictions will therefore directly impact our ability to serve customers in the most data hungry markets like NY, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Baltimore-DC, Philadelphia, Boston and Dallas."

T-Mobile’s Magenta Herring – Posted by Joan Marsh (AT&T)

Using Allnet Insights’ Spectrum Ownership Analysis Tool we are able to evaluate AT&T’s low band spectrum ownership for all US Partial Economic Area (PEA) market.  For this evaluation, we want to see the markets where AT&T’s low band spectrum ownership is less than 45MHz.  This would be a PEA market where AT&T would not expect restrictions in the Broadband Incentive Auction (600MHz).

For the Top 50 markets we have the same markets that Joan Marsh indicated in her blog.   Also included in the screenshot is amount of low band spectrum that AT&T controls as well as its competitor’s spectrum holdings in the same markets.  It is interesting to note that Verizon would be restricted in each of these 6 markets, and T-Mobile only has low band spectrum in 1 of these markets.  In addition, we detail how the low band spectrum is divided between cellular spectrum and 700 MHz spectrum.

As we have demonstrated, our data provides similar results to AT&T’s analysis, but it also allows the other national wireless carriers (and over 600 smaller carriers) to be evaluated in the same manner. 

Allnet Insights’ Spectrum Ownership Analysis Tool provides county-level spectrum depth and LTE channel configurations, as well as Partial Economic Area (PEA), Economic Area (EA), and Cellular Market Area (CMA) market level spectrum depth evaluations.


R.I.P. FCC Dashboard Thu, Aug 06, 2015

Many have grown accustomed to using the FCC Spectrum Dashboard for quick and relatively simple access to spectrum ownership data.  This was never a complete solution for spectrum ownership analysis because many frequency blocks (AWS-H, AWS-3, and AWS-4) were never available for query. There have been several blocks of data that have entirely disappeared (700MHz – D block) or been so reduced in quantity that what is left is highly questionable.

Recently, I went to the FCC Spectrum Dashboard to download a large block of spectrum data for analysis.  To receive a large data file, the FCC has historically sent a link to a user input email address where the data can be downloaded.  After 3 unsuccessful attempts, to receive the email links, I called the FCC support line and was informed that feature was indeed broken and would not be fixed.  The customer support representative also indicated that the data available on the site had not been updated since 7/7/2014, over a year ago.

I think we can declare the FCC Spectrum Dashboard dead as a spectrum ownership tool.  Since Allnet Insights tracks all spectrum transactions related to the mobile carrier frequencies, we know that since July 9, 2014 over 350 applications have been submitted changing the ownership or leasing on nearly 700 call signs.  These numbers don’t include any of new AWS-3 call signs which include an additional 1,614 call signs.   In all, the FCC Spectrum Dashboard has incorrect data for nearly 2000 call signs.

Fortunately, AllNet Insights’ Spectrum Owners Analysis Tool and its National Carrier reports continue to provide the industry leading information on spectrum ownership through our carefully managed spectrum ownership database This database maintains the current licensee, lease, and future licensee for every block of US wireless carrier spectrum.

Enhanced Market Level Reports Tue, Nov 04, 2014

The November 2014 Spectrum Ownership Analysis Tool includes several enhancements to the Market Level Reports.  Market Level Reports are available for Cellular Market Areas (CMA) and Economic Areas (EA).  Initially these market level reports only included spectrum depth values for each carrier by spectrum band.  With this update, you can see each selected carrier's total spectrum holdings, their spectrum holdings in each of the primary band classes (Low Band, Mid Band, and High Band), and their spectrum holdings in each spectrum band.

The band classes are defined as follows:

  • Low Band
    • 700MHz
    • Cellular/SMR
  • Mid Band
    • L Band/S Band (AWS-4)
    • AWS-1
    • PCS
    • AWS -3 (when the auction is complete)
  • High Band
    • WCS
    • EBS/BRS
The user can select 8 carriers to be displayed in these reports from the 580 carriers available in the Spectrum Ownership Analysis Tool.  For the examples below, we have included most of the national wireless carriers as well as a few regional carriers.

The spectrum depth values for each of these reports are determined from the county-level spectrum ownership information in the Spectrum Ownership Analysis Tool using a population-weighted average.  This means that each of the county-level spectrum depth values is multiplied by a ratio of the county's population divided by the market population.  This provides for a higher weighting for spectrum depth in higher population counties.

CMA Market Report - Total Spectrum Depth and Spectrum Depth by Band Class

CMA Market Report - Spectrum Depth by Frequency Band

Verizon Re-farming PCS Spectrum Band Fri, Jun 28, 2013

Verizon announced yesterday that they will be making their PCS spectrum available for LTE in 2015.  If you are looking at a planning horizon, you could call this LTE Channel #3 for Verizon.  Channel #1 is the 700MHz C Block Channel, Channel #2 is their AWS spectrum holding, and Channel #3 is now their PCS spectrum asset.  Previously Verizon had indicated interest in Clearwire EBS/BRS spectrum which was their Channel #3 at that time, which has passed.

So what does this mean to Verizon and its customers?  First, there are a limited number of markets where Verizon lacks cellular spectrum, so the PCS spectrum carries their voice traffic.  See the Tulsa, OK, Spectrum Grid below:

 In Tulsa, USCellular owns the B-band Cellular spectrum, highlighting a potential acquisition opportunity.  Verizon holds 5MHz of spectrum in the PCS block for their voice services, along with 10MHz of AWS spectrum.

Looking at the contiguous spectrum that Verizon holds in each of the cellular market areas we see that the only market where they can create a 20x20 LTE channel with their PCS spectrum holding is in New York, NY.  For the New York market, Verizon's PCS spectrum holding would permit 4 - 5x5 LTE Channels, or 2 - 10x10 LTE Channels, or 1 20x20 LTE Channel.  Below are the results for Verizon's PCS Spectrum in Cellular markets 1-25.  The fractional LTE channels (e.g. 2.1 - 5x5 LTE in Minneapolis) are caused by summarizing the number LTE channels in each market by averaging the LTE channel count for each county in that cellular market area (CMA).

Below are the results for Verizon's PCS Spectrum in Cellular markets 25-50.  Clearly, deployment of Verizon's PCS spectrum with LTE will not provide as much additional capacity as their Channel #1 and Channel #2 plans, thus Verizon is still spectrum shopping for their 2015 LTE capacity.

LTE Band Class Graphical Reference Thu, Jun 27, 2013

With AT&T's announcement that they are meeting some challenges related to testing operation between LTE Band Class 29 and Band Classes 2 and 4, I figured that many readers would appreciate a reference map for how these band classes relate to the US mobile radio and satellite spectrum bands.

All of these screenshots are from the AllNet Labs Spectrum Ownership Analysis Tool, where we display and provide analysis tools related to spectrum ownership for all of the US mobile radio and satellite spectrum bands for all 50 states and US territories. AllNet Labs Spectrum Ownership Analysis Tool

In the images below, the band classes are color coded Gray for Uplink Spectrum, Yellow for Downlink Spectrum, and Blue for Spectrum supporting Time Division Duplex.

700MHz Spectrum

SMR/Cellular/L-Band Spectrum

AWS/PCS Spectrum - Uplink

PCS/AWS Spectrum - Downlink

WCS/EBS/BRS Spectrum

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