FCC allows AT&T to use unused airwaves for mobile broadband

AT&T has received approval from the Federal Communications Commission that allows the carrier to use a section of unused airwaves for its expanding 4G LTE network. A section of the 2.3GHz spectrum band known as Wireless Communications Services (WCS) will be handed over to AT&T, while also cutting down on interference for Sirius satellite radio subscribers.

The decision was approved today by the Federal Communications Commission on a 5-0 vote, but the decision didn't come lightly. The main reason why the airwaves remained unused by mobile carriers was the fact that it would cause interference problems with Sirius XM's satellite radio signals if a carrier ended up using the airwaves.

However, AT&T and Sirius have come up with an agreement that would turn 10MHz of the Wireless Communications Services airwaves into "guard bands" on either side of Sirius's spectrum. This will leave AT&T with 20MHz of spectrum that is free and clear, and Sirius satellite radio broadcasts won't be interrupted.

It turns out the FCC auctioned off the spectrum back in 1997, but it's never been claimed by a wireless carrier due to the risk of interferences with other services. However, in order to effectively work properly, AT&T must own the entire spectrum band, so the carrier will still be struggling to consolidate the remaining airwaves that are still owned by other services.

[via Washington Post]