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Mandating LTE interoperability in the Lower 700 MHz band will drive billions of dollars in private investment and spur 100,000 new jobs over the next five years, according to a letter sent to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski by the Interoperability Alliance.

“Lack of interoperability is having a chilling effect on the market, investment, and network deployments,” wrote the letter’s eleven signatories, which represent operators and others with interests in the Lower 700 MHz A Block.

Members of the Interoperability Alliance include the Competitive Carriers Association, National Telecommunications Cooperative Association, C Spire Wireless, Cincinnati Bell, U.S. Cellular and King Street Wireless, which are demanding the FCC mandate interoperability before year’s end.

“Collectively, we and other competitive wireless operators invested nearly $2 billion in private capital in this spectrum block,” they wrote.

Currently there is no roaming between LTE carriers, although they use the same standard and the same 700 MHz frequency band.

Verizon uses 10×10 MHz on the Upper 700 MHz “C block”, while AT&T uses 10×10 LTE spectrum on the lower 700 MHz band, combining blocks “B” and “C”. The “A” block, next to AT&T’s LTE spectrum is also next to the last UHF television on the band, which AT&T and Verizon claim prevents them from implementing cost/effective interoperability. The FCC is going to auction off that TV spectrum in the next few years.

Motorola miraculously sells an interoperable LTE product for public service users in the “D” block, that also works on cellular bands. The Harris InTouch RPC-200 is another ruggedized LTE smartphone that will be able to operate on both commercial carrier networks as well as Band 14 public-safety LTE systems.

AT&T and Verizon can effectively “lock out” regional providers by creating islands of incompatibility. Because AT&T and Verizon won’t provide interoperability, subscribers of regional providers are isolated, and denied LTE roaming outside their home network.

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