An examination of 700-MHz interoperability issues should be expanded, T-Mobile USA argues.

The Federal Communications Commission said it would initiate such the rule-making when it approved AT&T’s purchase of Qualcomm’s Lower D and E Block 700 MHz MediaFLO spectrum licenses. The original intent was simply to determine the technology feasibility of interoperable use of all four blocks.

But T-Mobile USA wants the investigation expanded, to determine whether all 700-MHz spectrum, to be used to support Long Term Evolution operations, can feasibly be made interoperable.

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Such a move would make possible easier roaming, something that would benefit T-Mobile USA and other mobile service providers offering LTE. AT&T and Verizon obviously do not want such an extension of roaming capabilities, for equally obvious competitive reasons.

Roaming agreements allow service providers to support consumer service even in areas where a given service provider does not own its own facilities. Such agreements favor smaller service providers, allowing them to support nationwide service, even where owned facilities are not available.

As often is the case, what might appear to be a “narrowly technical” ruling could have important competitive and marketplace implications.

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