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Spectrum Blog

Google's Experimental Network - Mountain View, CA Thu, Jan 24, 2013

There is a little buzz this morning about an application from Google to construct a experimental network on 2.5GHz frequencies on the Mountain View, CA campus.  Here is a link to the application.  The application states that they will be using spectrum between 2.524 and 2.546GHz and between 2.567 and 2.625GHz.  The top issues with this application is that Clearwire operates their WiMax network within this market and has states on their earnings calls that they typically deploy using between 30MHz and 60MHz of spectrum.  Google would need to guarantee that there would be no harmful effect to this commercial network.  Now lets look at the specific spectrum allocations.


In the above image from my Spectrum Ownership Landscape Report, you can see that the lower band matches correctly to the B2, B3, C1, and C2 channels.  The upper band matches the LTE Band 38 so there would appear to be a desire to test TDD-LTE equipment in that portion of the band.

Can Google do this without Clearwire's agreement and assistance?  I don't think so.  The B2,B3 channels are owned by The Santa Clara Board of Education (Call Sign WHG338) and don't appear to be leased to Clearwire so they are ok.  C1,C2 (Call Sign WHR466) are owned by The Assocation for Continuing Education and they appear to be leased to Clearwire.  The spectrum in Band 38 is particularly interesting.  First of all, it is the portion of the spectrum that is currently dedicated to video operation, so Google would need to work with each of the broadcasters and convince them that their operation in Mountain View would not interfer with the ability of the broadcaster's clients to receive their desire video broadcast.  In addition, the presence of this high powered video interference would make Google's tests much more challenging, especially outdoors. On the far right of the spectrum allocation Google has requested is the BRS2 channel that is clearly owned by Clearwire.

For the video spectrum, Clearwire still holds the leases for the A4, C4, D4, E4, and F4 channels.  I anticipate that Clearwire is not supportive of this testing without their involvement and they will protest the experimental authorization.  In my history with with wireless carriers, it was not unusual to see a experimental application for my carrier's spectrum without being contacted directly for the use of my carrier's spectrum.

LTE Broadcast - What is the problem with video? Wed, Jan 23, 2013

Verizon's announced last week that they were looking into broadcasting multicast video utilizing the LTE Broadcast feature, known in the standard as EMBMS - Evolved Multimedia Broadcast / Multicast Service.  After watching a video interview by Dan Meyer with RCR Wireless with Lynette Luna from Current Analysis I thought a short description of the challenge of multicast video would be in order.


The goal transmitting multicast video is to limit the number of unique video sessions that are coming into your network, loading your switches, routers, cell site backhaul, and finally cell site RF capacity.  In the diagram above I have shown Netflix/You Tube video traffic in red.  From Dan and Lynette's conversation, this would be considered Over the Top (OTT) video, essentially video not provided or managed by the network carrier.  With 3 handsets all receiving a unique You Tube video or Netflix movie, there are 3 streams of video capacity (red circles) used at the market switch (2 are shown).  The South Market Switch still is burdened with 3 video streams.  The backhaul to the 1st cell site on the South market switch is still carrying all three video streams, but since no users are on the 1st cell site, no RF coverage is consumed.  The link between the 1st and 2nd site still carries 3 video streams while the link between the 2nd and 3rd site only carries 2 video streams. 

Looking at the North Market Switch we can see what is desired with multicasting video.  The key is to realize that this video is synchronized for all users like a live sports game or a broadcast television program that starts at the same time for all users.  The network will have the intelligence to recognize that multiple users are requesting the same video stream and it will only set it up once on each switch, cell site backhaul, and cell site that has a user requesting the service.  You can see that there is one site off the North Market Switch that does not have a Live Broadcast User, thus neither the site or the site backhaul would be carrying that video stream, eliminating that required capacity.

I see this as a limited offloading opportunity.  US Consumers have been trained with DVRs to timeshift TV viewing and to utilize Quickskipping to eliminate commercials.  For consumers, applications like Dish Anywhere which allows me to record my programs, including Live Sports, and send them to my handset when I want to start them, will continue to be very popular.  This would be an OTT video example that I gave above.  Wireless carrier's could enable DVR functionality in the handset, allowing the customer to pause the live broadcast at their handset and continue playback at their convenience, but that is an expensive handset that doesn't exist today. 



Globalstar - Terrestrial Low-Power Service (TLPS) Tue, Jan 22, 2013

Globalstar's Proposed Terrestrial Low-Power Service (TLPS) has some well thought-out approaches.  Globalstar has petitioned the FCC to allow them to utilize their 2484-2500 MHz "Big Leo" satellite spectrum to provide terrestrial coverage.
Globalstar's spectrum lies directly above the 2.4GHz ISM band which hosts a vast majority of the WiFi in use today, as well as bluetooth and microwave ovens.  Directly above the Globalstar spectrum is the EBS/BRS spectrum controlled primarily by Clearwire.

Globalstar has proposed terrestrial operation on a the newly named AWS5 band.  It would essentially be a 4th non-overlapping WiFi channel (Channels 1,6,and 11 are the primary non-overlapping WiFi channels).  It would still be a 22MHz wide channel, using the ISM band above Channel 11 (which is lightly used) and about 10MHz of their AWS5 channel.  Globalstar believes that most existing WiFi devices could support this spectrum with a over-the-air software updates so a massive number of devices could be overloaded to this network once it is constructed.

Also intriguing is the improved performance characteristics of this spectrum.  First, since it is licensed to Globalstar, they can control the use of the spectrum.  They envision a carrier grade network using this spectrum that would manage Hotspot power levels and interference.  Since this spectrum has much less interference, it is capable of covering larger areas with higher speeds than typical WiFi.

If Globalstar can figure out the backhaul aspect to providing this service, I think they will have a leg up on other white-glove WiFi service providers since they are better able to manage the RF environment for their frequencies. It is conceivable that Globalstar would host WiFi overloading for all of the 4 national carriers.  I still see the biggest challenge to be in a residential environment where they envision a hotspot in my house being under their control, but likely on my cable internet service.  I'm pretty sure Comcast won't react well to my residential internet service supporting a commercial operation.

Is this a service that could be considered or expanded into the EBS/BRS channels that are adjacent to Globalstar's spectrum?  The answer is yes.  Clearwire has stated that they have excess spectrum.  I would anticipate that this would look like a private LTE network on Clearwire's spectrum versus WiFi on Globalstar's, but it would not be as feasible as Globalstar's proposal due to the current lack of devices that support LTE on the EBS/BRS frequencies.



DISH Counter-Offer for Clearwire Wed, Jan 09, 2013

Dish's counter-offer for Clearwire is intriguing.  I recently completed a presentation detailing the challenges of a spectrum sale in the EBS/BRS spectrum.  Clearwire's press release states that this offer was on the table when Sprint's offer was received but Sprint's offer was deemed better.  Tim Farrar's Blog indicates that the spectrum sale would likely be for Clearwire's BRS spectrum.  This is a realistic assumption.  In my presentation (linked in a previous blog) I highlighted that one of the primary problems with the leased spectrum is that it has limited geographic coverage, covering many of the dense metro areas but not contiguous all the way to a county or BTA border.  There are still a few elements of a BRS spectrum sale that should be understood.


From the image above, the BRS spectrum sale would include the Orange (BRS1/BRS2) channels, the Pink (E channels), Light Blue (F channels) and Brown (H channels). This would equate to one contiguous block of 55.5MHz of spectrum, a 12MHz block of spectrum (E4,F4), and the isolated BRS1 channel.  The 12MHz block could only be used if mid-band video operations have ceased in a market.  Currently, I don't believe that any of the Top 10 markets have completed ceased video operations.  The 55MHz of spectrum can support 2 - 20MHz TDD-LTE channels.  This would virtually eliminate the ability to utilize the EBS/BRS spectrum for any FDD-LTE operations.  It may be possible with a guardband in the H channels to operate the D channels and G channels in a FDD-LTE configuration.

In looking at the LTE Bandplans, the potential Dish spectrum allocation would miss the international TDD-LTE Band 38 which Softbank, China Mobile, and the UK auctions are using.  We will have to watch carefully to see if international devices will include functionality of Band 41.

My last area of concern is whether that will leave enough spectrum for Clearwire to continue to operate their WiMax network as they bring their TDD-LTE network online.  Additionally, with the geographic limitations of the leased channels, there may be a limited number of sites operating on Clearwire's network today, that won't have available spectrum without the owned channel spectrum.

Webcast: Clearwire's Spectrum Explained Tue, Jan 08, 2013


Below is a link to an Investor's Presentation provided by AllNet Labs detailing the licensing, geographic, and leased versus owned challenges of Clearwire's Spectrum.

Audio and Slide Presentation

Presentation Outline

Agenda

  • History of the EBS/BRS Spectrum
  • Owned versus Leased Spectrum
  • LTE Band Configuration
  • Recent Auctions
  • Substantial Service
  • Issues before the FCC
  • Spectrum Sale Challenges

Small Cells Rulemaking: 3550-3650MHz - Citizens Broadband Service (CBS) Fri, Jan 04, 2013

Interesting facts from the Small Cell Rulemaking.  A signal at 3.5GHz would have 29% reduced range compared to BRS/EBS (2.5GHz), 45% compared to PCS (1.9GHz) and 75% compared to the Cellular (850MHz) bands.

Half of this band is currently used for receive frequencies for earth/satellite stations in 37 cites and adjacent radar systems exist from 3650-3700MHz.

There will be large exclusion zones due to incumbent use of the spectrum.  West Coast, East Coast, Gulf Coast, Hawaii, and Guam. Approximately 190 million people or 60% of the US population would not have access to small cell technology in the 3.5GHz band.  From the map below, the only Top 10 markets that could use this frequency band would be Chicago and Detroit with Detroit being a question mark due to issues with Canada.

FCC 12-148A1 - Figure 2


FCC Small Cell Definition
Small cells are low-powered wireless base stations intended to cover small indoor or outdoor areas ranging in size from homes and offices to stadiums, shopping malls, and metropolitan outdoor spaces. Small cells are typically used to extend wireless coverage to areas where macro cell signals are weak or to provide additional data capacity in areas where existing macro cells are overloaded. Small cells are also characterized by their inclusion of novel sensing technologies such as environmental recognition and auto-configuration. (Paragraph 30, FCC 12-148A1)

The FCC has proposed a multi-tier licensing framework:
  • Incumbent Access - federal and grandfathered Fixed Satellite Service (FSS) providers
  • Priority Access - critical services including hospitals, utilities, state, and local governments
  • General Authorized Access (GAA) - commercial, opportunistic users as well as business and homeowners.  GAA users would be required to register in the SAS.
A Spectrum Access System (SAS) similar to the Television Whitespace Database used to coordinate unlicensed usage of the UHF broadcast TV whitespace. SAS would manage CBS access and ensure that lower tiered users will not harm federal and FSS users.


Is it PCS H or AWS H? FCC H Block Auction Rulemaking Fri, Dec 28, 2012

Last week the FCC released its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the Service Rules for the Advanced Wireless Services H Block.  So despite the fact that the H channel in discussion here are virtually adjacent to the PCS block of spectrum, they are referred to as AWS H.  I'll continue to call them PCS H because that have no relationship with the spectrum commonly referred to as AWS (1.7 and 2.1GHz).  My primary question as I reviewed this rulemaking, was how the auction would be structured so there would be interest for this spectrum block, beside Sprint.

Clearly, this spectrum block is more valuable to Sprint, since it can be combined with its nationwide PCS G block to enable Sprint to migrate to a 10x10 LTE channel from its current 5x5 LTE channel.  Doubling their channel size will get this LTE deployment on par with Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile's initial deployments.

Interestingly, the FCC doesn't comment to the use of the channel for LTE, they consider a deployment with CDMA more likely.  This is probably the only way to think that there will be bidders beside Sprint.  A T-Mobile or AT&T could purchase this spectrum for additional WCDMA capacity since a WCDMA channel would fit perfectly in this block, but I believe that a deployment of WCDMA in this block would be delayed by the 3GPP standards board in the same way that Sprint's LTE deployment would be waiting for standards body support for a new band plan.

Two other interesting notes from this rulemaking.  The FCC is proposing to issue the spectrum with Economic Area (EA) Geographical Licensing.  Above is a FCC map depicting the recognized Economic Area boundaries.  Evidently EA licensing was chosen to encourage build outs in rural areas.  Given that the build out requirements are easily met by building only the large cities first, I don't agree with this logic.  More likely, the EA licensing allows the FCC to receive a higher price for rural areas since their POPS roll up within a more valuable metropolitan area.

The licensees will receive 10-year licenses with the requirement that 40% of the POPS are covered within 4 years and that 70% are covered before the license is renewed after year 10.  Neither of these requirements will drive investment into rural areas.

This spectrum will be challenging to utilized near the borders: San Diego, Detroit, Buffalo, and McAllen/Brownsville since Canada and Mexico are running 3-4 years behind the US in spectrum policy.  The use of this spectrum in border markets has to be done without interference with the Canadian and Mexican systems currently using this spectrum.

Lastly, this spectrum comes with a requirement to share the microwave relocation costs that Sprint and UTAM incurred to make the PCS G block usable.

Sprint Small Cells (Not Small Cells) Thu, Dec 27, 2012

Sprint Small Cells - Light Reading

Above is a link to a Light Reading interview with Sprint VP of Network Development and Engineering Iyad Tarazi. The hot topic in wireless is small cells.  Clearly the carriers are blurring the definitions of small cells to demonstrate that they have a large installed base or are significantly down the road for new network installations.  From Iyad's interview, Sprint has over 500,000 femto cells providing primarily indoor coverage enhancements to customer residences.  These are using the customer's broadband service for connectivity and do not support handover of voice or data calls.  (Calls drop as you leave home and need to be re-originated on the carrier network.  Iyad describes the small cell developments for their LTE coverage.  It is not stated, but it is likely that this development is only for their PCS G frequency block, not Clearwires forthcoming LTE.  In addition, I would challenge whether they meet the definition for small cells.  Sprint is continuing down the path of a non-network integrated coverage device.  Whether installed in a small business or a residence, the products Iyad described are not integrated with Sprint's macro network, do not provide interference protection to that network, and will not hand over voice or data calls over without dropping the connections.  This is really no improvement to providing WiFi coverage and is deceptive to include in the small cell discussion where a prerequisite should be to provide seamless integration with the macro network.  What Sprint has solved for their version of the "small cell" is the impact of providing cost effective backhaul connectivity to the small cell.  In all of the cases that Sprint has developed a "small cell" product, they are utilizing the customers backhaul facility for connectivity.  To get true integration with their carrier/macro network, Sprint will need to provide and pay for backhaul to their facilities for small cells.

PCS H and 3.5GHz FCC Rulemaking Tue, Dec 18, 2012

The FCC released their rulemakings today for the PCS H Auction and the Small Cell 3.5GHz spectrum.  In keeping with with my company's mission statement "Explaining the Wireless Industry from a Carrier Mindset", I will be evaluating and commenting on both of those FCC documents by the end of the week.

Why Couldn't Clearwire Sell Their Spectrum? Tue, Dec 18, 2012

Another area of interest from the Sprint / Clearwire conference call yesterday were Erik Prusch's comments related to Clearwire's attempts to sell spectrum in 2010.  Erik indicated that the offers they received were below value.

I will be conducting a webinar for GLG Research on January 4, 2013 where I will be discussing the history and challenges of Educational Broadcast Service (EBS) and Broadband Radio Service (BRS) spectrum.  I believe that the undervalue offers were due to issues with the spectrum channelization, geographic boundaries, unlicensed channels, and FCC mandated obligations for leased spectrum.

Sprint Purchase of Clearwire Tue, Dec 18, 2012

Inevitable.  If you have followed the Sprint/Clearwire saga since they were joined with Google, Time Warner, Brighthouse, Comcast, and Intel; it was obvious that Clearwire had a hard road ahead.  In yesterday's announcement Erik Prusch indicated the depth of the internal concern; Clearwire had retained an advisor to provide options for restructuring.

Once the carrier consolidation of 2012 occurred, the only path forward I saw for Clearwire was funding minimal operations into the 2014 time frame, with a hope that the other 3 national players would finally need the wholesale access to Clearwire's spectrum. With each of the national players, except Sprint, lining up their LTE capacity growth spectrum, the need for wholesale access to Clearwire's WiMax or planned TDD-LTE network was unnecessary.  Clearly Sprint needed Clearwire for its LTE growth spectrum and at $0.21/MHzPOP I believe we will look back 5 years from now and view this was steal.  Not only has Sprint put in concrete their LTE capacity growth, but they have cornered the market available spectrum for years to come.  When you consider that Clearwire controlled 160MHz of spectrum which could be expanded to nearly 200MHz in most metro areas with additional spectrum leasing and spectrum purchases, Sprint has the only meaninful swatch of "new" spectrum that will come to market in the next 5 years.

I don't see the Broadband Incentive auction, the Dish spectrum, or the recent 3.5GHz spectrum as meaningful for efficient macro network coverage.  Those subjects are covered in other blogs.

The purchase of Clearwire does not guarantee smooth sailing for Sprint.  Sprint still has very significant short term issues.  Their LTE network is 5X5 which is the smallest of any of the national carriers.  In addition, their customers with WiMax devices will continue to transition over to this network as they upgrade their devices.  Clearwire's TDD-LTE hotspot network is only at the construction start stage, with likely very limited coverage throughout 2013. Clearwire has talked historically about devices arriving for this network 2Q or 3Q 2013.  Thus, there won't be any material movement of traffic from Sprint 3G or LTE network until early 2014.  From what I experience on my Sprint Samsung S3, the 3G network is already challenged and LTE is not available in my market (Seattle).  It will get worse before it gets better.

AT&T Carrier Aggregation - Band 5 and Band 17 Fri, Dec 14, 2012

Posted during the 3GPP RAN Meeting on Dec 4-7, 2012 in Barcelona, Spain.

Customer Requirements for LTE Advanced Carrier Aggregation for Band 5 and Band 17.  This appears to be supporting AT&T's need to aggregate carriers between their 700MHz (Band 17) and the Cellular band (Band 5).  No mention of including the redefined WCS band.  Could this be a sign that AT&T's growth plan for LTE will be to grow into the cellular spectrum first, and then to the WCS spectrum?

Limitations to Clearwire's TDD-LTE Wholesale Model Fri, Dec 14, 2012

When Clearwire first offered wholesale access to its spectrum, it was using the WiMax technology.  It had built this technology in the 2.5GHz band and it was covering up to 80 markets by the end of 2010.  At this time Clearwire provided meaningful WiMax coverage in each of their markets for Sprint, Comcast, Time Warner, and Best Buy to provide their customers 4G Only WiMax devices.  Essentially, Clearwire's WiMax network had broad enough coverage that these operators could selectively offer their customers service in the markets that Clearwire offered WiMax service.

As Clearwire has embarked on the TDD-LTE strategy, their wholesale model has gotten a bit more complex.  First, they continue to sign up relatively small partners for their WiMax wholesale offering:  Simplexity, Freedom Pop, Best Buy, CBeyond, Mitel, NetZero, Locus, and Kajeet.  They have Sprint already signed for Wholesale Access to the forthcoming TDD-LTE network and added Leap to the WiMax partner list early in 2012.

Leap demonstrates the change of direction for wholesale agreements for the TDD-LTE network.  For their TDD-LTE roaming strategy, a roaming partner would need a "thin" LTE network providing coverage in their markets.  They would then roam over to the Clearwire TDD-LTE "hot spots" only for capacity.  Sprint's 5x5MHz FDD-LTE deployment would qualify as a "thin" LTE deployment.  This implicit requirement for a "thin" coverage network, eliminates non-carriers from the TDD-LTE wholesale process since it would be difficult to sell "spots" of coverage across Los Angeles if you didn't have service already over the area.

In addition, the quantity of sites in the Clearwire LTE plan started at 8,000 of their 16,000 sites, was reduced to 5,000 sites and recently has arrived at 2,000 sites.  This has increased the challenge of finding wholesale partners with this very limited coverage.

Clearwire and Dish: Spectrum Hosting Tue, Dec 11, 2012

The idea of Clearwire hosting Dish's AWS2 spectrum seems to be bouncing around the news pages today.  Clearly (no pun intended), Clearwire operates a 4G network that is very similar to Sprint Network Vision concept.  With the necessary zoning and permitting, Clearwire could add this spectrum band with a new set of antennas and tower top base stations.  So, this would get Dish to market after they pass the standard's body requirements for defining the new band, but what does it provide Clearwire.  Different than Sprint, they don't need the spectrum, they need capital to increase the TDD-LTE build out.  I believe that Clearwire would much rather Dish sign up for their wholesale mobile broadband service with an infusion of capital.  My next blog will look at one of the other drawbacks for potential wholesale partners like Dish with Clearwire's TDD-LTE plan.  Check back later in the week.

Dish and Sprint: Spectrum Hosting Mon, Dec 10, 2012

On the surface, a deal to host Dish's spectrum on Sprint's Network Vision platform would make alot of sense.  The chart below highlights that part of Dish's (DI) spectrum is adjacent to the AWS-2 spectrum that recently has been referred to as the PCS H spectrum.  Sprint is interested in acquiring this spectrum to increase their LTE channel size from 5x5 FDD-LTE to 10x10 FDD-LTE. Unfortunately, the Dish spectrum is configured where the uplink (from the handset to the cell site) would be adjacent to Sprint's LTE downlink (cell site to handset).  This will be problematic for Dish. Cell sites transmit at much higher power than handset signals are received.  Expensive filters on the separate Dish antennas may not be enough to allow the Dish antennas to be installed in the same plane (level) as the Sprint antennas.

You can look at this as being similar to the Lightsquared deal, except Lightsquared was planned into the deployment through the zoning and permitting process.  With the standards body processes that are in front of Dish, it would still be years before equipment is installed and a network operating on Sprint's towers.    A Dish MVNO to operate on Sprint's 3G Voice and LTE network would allow Dish to get a wireless product to market quickly.



T-Mobile (Deutsche Telekom Capital Markets Day 2012) Fri, Dec 07, 2012

There were several interesting details that came out of the Deutsche Telekom Capital Markets Day 2012.  The primary announcement concerned T-Mobile USA being blessed with the ability to sell the iPhone.  T-Mobile's new CEO, John Legere indicated that it will have a dramatically different experience than the other iPhone on the market.  In addition T-Mobile will sell it unsubsidized, although they will offer financing plans.  This should continue to drive T-Mobile's Cost Per Gross Add (CPGA) down, although they didn't disclose if this only affects their iPhone retail business or potentially all of their retail.  This is a dramatic step which eliminate the primary issue that I have had with the subsidy pricing model.  I have a problem with paying the same monthly rate for my smartphone if I am out of contract as the guy that who just got a new device.  With T-Mobile's plan the true cost of upgrading will be carried by the customer, with the expectation of lower monthly rates.



Above is a restatement of the testing data from PC Magazine which T-Mobile released.  It is interesting to note how far their speeds have fallen from their early announcements in late 2010 concerning the HSPA+ network.  It is also worth noting that they compared AT&T's LTE network.  You can again see the loading effect on the network.  AT&T's Chicago network was launched September 2011 so it has been loading for over a year reflecting the slower speeds.  AT&T's complete New York and San Francisco networks are much newer, launching September 2012, thus carrying less traffic.  I am curious why T-Mobile did not chose to compare themselves to AT&T's 4G (HSPA+) network.

From a LTE network build perspective, this was the first time I have heard clearly that T-Mobile is deploying tower top electronics.  It is interesting that they state that they are the first carrier in North America to broadly deploy radio-integrated antennas.  Clearwire was the first carrier to deploy tower top base stations, followed by Sprint with their Network Vision project.  T-Mobile is playing up the fact that their radios are some how integrated into the antenna.  Not really an earth shattering announcement.  From a technology perspective, deploying the tower top base stations will fill in coverage holes and improve data speeds so it is a good move.  In addition, these base stations will be Release 10 capable, meaning a software update will move these radio from the LTE features to the  LTE Advance features.

The Numbers:

  • Current 4G Network covers 225 million POPs
  • Release 10 Equipment being deployed to 37,000 cell sites
  • T-Mobile and MetroPCS:  Migration not Integration
  • With MetroPCS Spectrum Position across Top 25 service areas is improved by 21%
  • Planning to shutdown 10,000 macro sites from MetroPCS
  • Retain and integrate 1,000 MetroPCS sites
  • Operating MetroPCS Markets
    • San Francisco 
    • Detroit
    • Boston
    • New York
    • Dallas
    • Atlanta
    • Florida (except panhandle)
  • MetroPCS brand will increase coverage from 105MPOPs to more than 280MPOPs.

What is wrong with Spectrum Pricing? Tue, Dec 04, 2012

Clearly the wireless industry has locked in spectrum pricing with the MHz-POP pricing model, but is this the right way to look at it as we move into a 4G World where data throughput and capacity are key?  For those that aren't familiar, the typical value of spectrum is determined by the $/MHzPOP which is the dollars spent for the spectrum divided by the total amount of spectrum times population that spectrum covers.  This model falls short now as carriers are interested in acquiring larger contiguous blocks of spectrum enabling higher users speeds and more capacity.

To use a real estate analogue, a large plot of land is much for flexible for multiple uses, than two plots, even if they are in the same neighborhood.  In real estate, the developer that is able to consolidate several tracks of land into a larger development is rewarded as he sells the larger development.

In the wireless industry, we continue to price based upon the $/MHz POP basis, even as carriers such as T-Mobile and Clearwire have combined adjacent channels to create larger bands of spectrum to utilize in larger LTE channels.  T-Mobile has worked this year with Verizon, SpectrumCo, and MetroPCS which will allow it to assimilate a 2X20MHz LTE channel on a national basis.  Clearwire has leased and purchased operators in the BRS and EBS spectrum bands providing it with an average of 160MHz of spectrum in the top markets.  Since Clearwire's spectrum has many geographical boundaries, it is difficult to say how many 20MHz channels they could support across each of their markets, but they have been successful consolidating small bands of spectrum into larger more flexible spectrum bands.

How does a larger band of spectrum affect the wireless carriers?  In the US, carriers have deployed FDD-LTE in 1.25MHz channels, 5MHz channels, and 10MHz channels.  As you increase the channel size throughput performance improves because a lower percentage of the data packets are dedicated to overhead activities   Qualcomm has provided achievable LTE Peak Data Rates for different channel bandwidths based upon whether the antennas are 2x2 or 4x4 MIMO.

Link to Qualcomm Document



As you can see in the 4x4 MIMO downlink case, the throughput is 12Mbps greater in the 20MHz channel than the composite of 4-5MHz channels.

So if a  20MHz channel is 4% more efficient than 4 - 5MHz channels should the MHz POPs pricing adjust accordingly?

By the way.. I am going to look for more source data on the capacity improvements for wider channels, a 4% improvement would seem to be relatively negligible.  I recall hearing 30% improvements in capacity when a channel size is doubled, but I haven't been able to re-source that data for this blog.   More to come.

Webcast: Spectrum Update - Broadcast and Whitespace Auctions Wed, Nov 28, 2012


Below is a link to an Investor's Presentation provided by AllNet Labs on the upcoming Broadcast Incentive Auctions and Whitespace Spectrum.

Audio and Slide Presentation

Download Presentation

Presentation Outline

Agenda

  • ›       Current FCC Status
  • ›       Preliminary Plan
  • ›       Primary Participants
  • ›       Devices
  • ›       Preliminary Spectrum Availability


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