Year-end US Carrier Coverage Report

Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility say their 3G/4G coverage in the United States is now pretty much universal with more than 300 million pops currently covered, mostly due to both carrier’s extensive 700 MHz LTE networks. Now it’s a matter of keeping up with capacity requirements.

Sprint says its LTE network now covers 260 million people, mostly through the use of 10 megahertz of spectrum in the 1.9 GHz band. Next year, Sprint’s Chief Network Officer John Saw said Sprint will continue to build out its LTE network with its 800 MHz buildout about halfway finished. “We expect to be substantially complete with our LTE 800 MHz build by the end of 2015 in markets where the spectrum is available,” according to Saw.

Sprint’s 2.5 GHz coverage is now available in 62 markets, utilizing the carrier’s Spark program, reports Saw, which combines 800Mhz, 1.9GHz and 2.5 GHz. Their 2.5 GHz network covers about 100 million people.

Meanwhile T-Mobile US CTO Neville Ray said the carrier’s LTE network coverage currently serves a similar 260 million pops, matching Sprint. Ray says T-Mobile is now on track to cover 280 million people with 4G LTE by mid-2015, and expects to hit the 300 million mark by the end of 2015.

T-Mobile has acquired more 700 MHz spectrum in the “A” block, reports FierceWireless, with the carrier making several deals for airwaves with small license holders in the last few months.

Cable & Carriers Target 5GHz Spectrum

Cox Communications announced today that it launched more than 1,700 additional WiFi hotspots for Cox Internet customers in the Phoenix and Las Vegas this month. The latest Cox WiFi hotspots bring CoxWiFi service to six markets to date with many more planned for 2015, including hundreds of hotspots in San Diego after the first of the year.

In addition to the current Cox WiFi markets (Connecticut, Northern Virginia, Omaha, Phoenix, Las Vegas and Sun Valley), customers also have access when they travel to the nation’s largest WiFi network of more than 300,000 hotspots made possible by a collaboration of cable companies across the country, called CableWiFi, launched in 2013. The hotspots are strategically located in high-traffic areas such as restaurants, malls, sports arenas, parks and beaches in cities like New York, Washington D.C., Boston, Richmond, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Tampa.

Only Cox customers who subscribe to the Preferred Internet Package ($49/mo for the first 12 months) or higher have free access to the CableWiFi network. Comcast offers a similar “deal” for access to the joint cable WiFi network offered across the country.

CableWiFi uses Hotspot 2.0 technology where visitors will be able to use Passpoint-certified smartphones, tablets, and laptops tied to different service providers to roam across different hotspot networks. Authentication will be tied to the original service provider, but connectivity will be delivered through the local hotspot.

In June, Comcast said its Xfinity WiFi footprint had expanded to about 3 million hotspots nationwide, getting it closer toward a goal of expanding that footprint to 8 million hotspots by the end of 2014.

If Comcast’s strategy is to take over the lower 5GHz band with “free” public WiFi (for cable modem subscribers), they’ll have competition from T-Mobile US which wants to “privatize” as much as 500 MHz of the unlicensed 5 GHz band for “unlicensed LTE, aka LTE-U.

Qualcomm championed the so-called “LTE-U” or unlicensed LTE back in November 2013, before the 3GPP switched to the term “License Assisted Access.” According to Fierce Wireless, Macquarie Research analysts Kevin Smithen and Will Clayton said that after having met with T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray, they expect T-Mobile will use LAA “extensively on the 500 MHz of 5 GHz spectrum, with handsets becoming available at the end of 2015.”

A spokesperson at T-Mobile confirmed the plan to use 5 GHz unlicensed technology to FierceWirelessTech, although the timing remains unclear.

Hotspot 2.0 is a new set of protocols to enable cellular-like roaming. A variety of partnerships are developing nationwide and world-wide, including:


According to Ruckus Wireless, a recent survey of 400 U.S. small businesses with retail places of business, commissioned by Devicescal, found [to nobody’s surprise] that providing free Wi-Fi is good business for increasing:

  • Customer foot traffic
  • The time spent on premises (and most importantly),
  • The amount customers spend.
  • The study focused on independent “mom and pop” retail stores, including bars, nightclubs, restaurants, fast food places, coffee shops, clothing boutiques, book shops, and salons.

A good night’s sleep isn’t as important as good hotel Internet connectivity, according to a recent report.

Infrastructure providers are also enabling small businesses and organizations to “roll their own” Hotspot 2.0 network. Ruckus Wireless gathered a bunch of interesting WiFi stats in a holiday-themed slide show.

Multi-User MIMO promises to handle large crowds better then Wave 1 802.11ac products since the different users can use different streams at the same time.

Public Hotspots serving large crowds will benefit most from MU-MIMO. Several enterprise and carrier-grade infrastructure providers are beginning to roll out their equipment (and backend software) now. LTE using the unlicensed 5GHz band is likely to be several years away, say most industry observers.

How large corporate takeovers of the unlicensed 5GHz band will (or will not) affect any truly “free” municipal network remains to be seen.

The FCC has increased Wi-Fi power in the lower 5 GHz band at 5.15-5.25 GHz, making Comcast and mobile phone operators happy since they can make use of 802.11ac networks, both indoors and out, even utilizing all four channels for up to 1 Gbps wireless networking.

The FCC’s 5 GHz U-NII Report & Order allowed higher power in the 5.150 – 5.250 GHz band.

These FCC U-NII technical modifications are separate from another proposal currently under study by the FCC and NTIA that would add another 195 MHz of spectrum under U-NII rules in two new bands, U-NII 2B (5.350 – 5.470 GHz) and U-NII 4 (5.850 – 5.925 GHz).

Commercial entities, including cable operators, cellular operators, and independent companies seem destined to blanket every dense urban area in the country with high-power 5 GHz service – “free” if you’re already a subscriber on their subscription network

Related Dailywireless articles include; Ruckus Announces Cloud-Based WiFi Services, Cloud4Wi: Cloud-Managed, Geo-enabled Hotspots, Ad-Sponsored WiFi Initiatives from Gowex & Facebook, FCC increases Wi-Fi power in the lower 5 GHz band at 5.15-5.25 GHz, Comcast Creates Hotspot 2.0 National Network,Cloud4Wi Annouces Cloud-Controlled WiFi , PowerCloud: Cloud-based WiFi: $100 a Pop , WiFi & Hotspot 2.0 at MWC, Hotspot 2.0 Moves Out, NYC & Cable Provide Hotspot 2.0 Service, Cities of San Jose and Santa Clara Get Free WiFi, Free Google WiFi for NYC Chelsea Neighborhood,Cloud-based WiFi: $100 a Pop , Meraki Cloud Managed Security

T-Mobile Rolling Over Unused Data

T-Mobile today announced its Un-carrier 8.0 Data Stash, for postpaid (contract) customers where unused data automatically automatically rolls over to the next month for up to a year. Data Stash is included at no extra charge for new and existing T-Mobile customers – individual, family or business – on an eligible postpaid Simple Choice plan who buys extra high-speed data for their smartphone or tablet.

T-Mobile will start every Data Stash with 10 GB of 4G LTE data – for free. Once you’ve used up that Free Data Stash, any unused high speed data − rounded up to the nearest megabyte – will start to roll into your Data Stash automatically every month. T-Mobile says there’s no limit to how much data you can collect in your Data Stash.

T-Mobile US also announced:

  • Their LTE footprint now reaches 260 million Americans, expanding to reach an additional 10 million people in just the last 60 days.
  • Wideband LTE (with bandwidths in excess of 10 MHz), is now available in 121 metropolitan areas, including New York City, giving customers more capacity and up to a 50 percent boost in speeds.
  • T-Mobile’s newly acquired 700Mhz spectrum is now available in Cleveland, Colorado Springs, Minneapolis and Washington, D.C., improving in-building coverage and extending coverage .

According to Chief Technology Officer Neville Ray, 2015 will be the year their low-band spectrum comes fully to life, more than doubling their LTE geographic coverage and adding support for many more devices on 700 MHz (Block A) spectrum. He says their smartphone customers are now using an average of 3.5 GB per month, leading all other wireless providers.

Yesterday, C Spire announced Pay-As-You-Go Rolling Data plans for pre-paid users. Their three new plans offer consumers with no annual contract a choice of price points – $40, $55 and $65 a month – for 2 GB, 4 GB and 6 GB of rolling data and unlimited talk, text and photos along with automatic data overage protection and optional top-up data passes on the company’s nationwide 4G + LTE mobile broadband network. C Spire is the sixth largest wireless provider in the United States and the largest privately held wireless provider in the United States.

Cricket Wireless is hoping a $100 bill credit will attract customers from Cincinnati Bell, MetroPCS, Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile, Sprint, and T-Mobile. New customers must switch from the aforementioned carriers, purchase a new device, and activate a new line of service on a qualifying rate plan in order to receive the credit. The credit will be applied at the end of the first billing cycle. Cricket’s service plans cost $40-$60 per month, depending on options.

AWS-3 Auction: Now $43.8 Billion

The FCC’s AWS-3 spectrum auction has now racked up provisional winning bids now topping $43.8 billion. There are also signs that the auction will end shortly, reports Fierce Wireless. The auction for 65 MHz of spectrum, some of which would be shared by incumbant users, started Nov. 13.

At the close of round 94 today, the total provisional winning bid amount came in at $43.814 billion. The auction will continue until there are no new bids or waivers in a given round.

The auction has already quadrupled its reserve price and tripled some pre-auction estimates. According to analysts at Jefferies, after 91 rounds, the paired spectrum in the AWS-3 auction was at $2.65 per MHz-POP and unpaired spectrum at 50 cents per MHz-POP.

Proceeds will pay for FirstNet, the interoperable first responder network as well as for deficit reduction.

The success of the AWS auction bodes well for Treasury, and the big broadcast TV auction next year (FCC NPRM). That auction will put some 120 MHz of UHF TV channels (near Channels 30-50) on the auction block. The FCC more recently indicated it was planning on selling only 84 MHz. TV group owners (who never really “owned” the spectrum in the first place), will get a piece of the action for selling their slot and moving their channel to UHF Channel 29 or below.

The FCC proposed this month that the TV auction would meet an average price per MHz-POP benchmark of $1.25 for “Category 1 licenses” in the 40 largest license areas by population, with about 84 MHz of spectrum being cleared in the auction.

The FCC earlier assumed 100 MHZ of spectrum would sell at about $1.50 per megahertz POP with a forward auction revenue of $45 billion. That figure now looks overly conservative. The TV auction could have nearly twice the amount of paired spectrum as the current AWS auction (100 MHz vs 50 MHz) and generate twice the Mhz/Pop.

The MHz/pop figure is derived by multiplying the number of megahertz associated with a license by the population of the license’s coverage area. For nation-wide coverage you’d multiply times 300 million Americans.

Will next year’s TV auction generate in excess of $100 billion? Perhaps. But somebody’s going to have to pay for it.

BT Plans to Buy UK’s EE

BT, formerly known as British Telecom, is poised to buy UK mobile operator EE for £12.5bn, if Ofcom and other watchdog agencies approve the deal, reports C/Net. Under the terms of the proposed deal, EE’s owners Germany’s Deutsche Telekom and France’s Orange would take a 12% and 4% stake in BT respectively, according to the BBC.

EE, formerly known as Everything Everywhere, is a partnership between Gemany’s Deutsche Telekom and French company Orange, BT would become the owner of the UK’s biggest mobile phone operator and the most established 4G network, potentially adding 24.5m mobile customers.

The potential deal is subject to regulatory approval by competition authorities.

BT was considering snapping up either EE or O2. In November, BT announced the company was in preliminary talks to buy back the O2 brand for £6 billion. BT currently dominates the UK’s fixed-line markets, with landlines, broadband and TV already in place, but doesn’t currently have a mobile presence. EE now dominates the mobile marketplace in the UK. EE’s LTE spectrum portfolio is also stronger than O2’s.

If successful, the deal could result in BT dominating four media and telecoms services — a “quad-play”.BT currently dominates the UK’s fixed-line markets, with landlines, broadband and TV already in place. EE dominates the mobile marketplace in the UK. If successful, the deal could result in BT dominating four media and telecoms services — a “quad-play”.

“With its fixed-line and TV assets,” industry analyst Kester Mann of CCS Insight told CNET recently, BT “could assume a very dominant position. Rivals such as TalkTalk, Virgin, Sky and Vodafone will be concerned.”

Vodafone, a British multinational telecommunications company headquartered in London, is the world’s 3rd-largest mobile telecommunications company, behind China Mobile and SingTel, with 434 million subscribers as of 31 March 2014. Vodafone owns and operates networks in 21 countries.

EE was formed in 2009 by the merger of Orange, owned by France Telecom, and T-Mobile, owned by Deutsche Telekom. The two European companies have held a 50/50 stake.

The EE television service will offer 70 Freeview channels, a 24-hour replay service and extra on-demand and catch-up TV channels, including BBC iPlayer, YouTube, Demand 5, Daily Motion and Wuaki.tv. The set-top box contains a one terabyte (TB) hard disk, which the firm said could store up to 25 days worth of standard definition content and five days worth of high-definition shows.

“Today we’re taking EE somewhere completely new. We’re going to introduce EE TV, a personal TV that puts mobile at heart of the home TV experience,” EE CEO Olaf Swantee said.

The service will be free with EE’s home broadband and landline packages, but will cost from £9.95 per month for EE mobile customers. The replay and recording features help in differentiating it from similar offerings by BT or Netflix. Vodafone has also been pursuing a similar quadplay strategy in other European markets.

The launch of the service brings EE into competition with the likes of Virgin Media and BT, which will reportedly launch consumer mobile services in the first quarter of the next year.

BT’s plan is to undercut mobile operators by enabling calls and data use via its 5.4 million wifi hotspots instead of 4G networks. BT also bought a ton of 2.6 GHz spectrum in the UK’s auction last year, as did Vodafone and EE.

Some 13 years ago, BT spun off their cellular holdings to O2. BT is now expected to entice customers by offering full packages covering broadband, TV, mobile and fixed line phone services using its 2.6 GHz frequency, and re-enter the consumer mobile market.

The UK has decided to break the 190 MHz-wide band of 2.6 GHz frequencies into two groups, 140 MHz of paired frequencies and 50 MHz of unpaired.

United Kingdom has a total of 80 million subscribers, with a 130.55% penetration rate. Mobile operators in the UK include:

Related Dailywireless articles include; EE UK: Quad Play Video Service, UK Auction Winner Announced, UK Begins 800/2.6GHz Auction Process, Joint LTE Network in UK Planned by Vodafone and Telefónica, Ofcom: LTE This Year for Everything, Everywhere, Joint LTE Network in UK Planned by Vodafone and Telefónica, UK Spectrum Auction: Delayed Again?, UK Spectrum Auction: Legal Threat from 02UK?, UK Delays 4G Auction, Ofcom: White Spaces by 2013, UK Gets Free Public WiFi,

AWS-3 Auction Surpasses Minimum Price Target

The AWS-3 auction on Monday surpassed the FCC’s minimum target of $10.5 billion. The auction has raised $16.4 billion so far through 15 rounds.


UPDATE: Already, the AWS-3 auction is the FCC’s most successful auction ever, reports FierceWireless. After just six days of bidding it has raised more than $24 billion in provisionally winning bids, surpassing the $13.7 billion raised during the AWS-1 auction in 2006, and the $18.9 billion raised during the 700 MHz auction in 2008. Now some predict the AWS-3 auction could raise more than $30 billion (which it did easily the next day).

AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile US are expected to grab the lion’s share of spectrum, but Dish Networks and non-U.S. companies including Mexico-based America Movil and Japan’s DoCoMo are among the potential bidders.

Dish Network has cobbled together nearly 55 megahertz of spectrum and has been looking for a wireless partner. The valuation of Dish’s 40 MHz in the nearby AWS-4 spectrum has already sent Dish Network stock rising. Their stock gained nearly 4% on Tuesday to a record high, and Dish was up more than 2%, above 69, in early trading in the stock market today. Dish also bought H-Block airwaves (adjacent to their AWS-4 spectrum), in March, raising $1.56 billion for the Treasury.

The FCC granted Dish flexibility to use 20 MHz of its AWS-4 spectrum at 2000-2020 MHz for uplink OR downlink operations. Dish owns uplink spectrum on the low end of AWS-4, but interference with the adjacent downlink H-block has been a concern.

If Dish is successful in attaining 15 MHz of uplink-only spectrum, then they could then pair it with AWS-4, converting uplink to downlink spectrum. In addition, Dish owns 6 MHz of 700 Mhz for downlink, potentially outflanking AT&T and Verizon in downlink spectrum. Their AWS Block H block could give them device interoperability/roaming with other carriers.

The FCC chose to require that AWS-3 spectrum be interoperable with AWS-1 spectrum, which many carriers currently use for LTE services. AWS-1 runs from 1710-1755 MHz and 2110-2155 MHz, notes Fierce Wireless, but the FCC left it up to carriers to voluntarily have AWS-3 be interoperable with AWS-4 (MSS) spectrum, which Dish Network controls.

Analysts have valued Dish’s airwaves in a wide range, from $7 billion to $17 billion. Whatever wireless firms pay for AWS-3 spectrum in specific markets could help set a value for Dish’s airwaves, analysts say. DISH is also part of three separate bidding consortia: American AWS-3 Wireless I LLC, Northstar Wireless, LLC and SNR Wireless LicenseCo, LLC.

The auction of 50 MHz of paired spectrum has increased evaluations of spectrum, according to New Street research analyst Jonathan Chaplin.

Cash-short but spectrum-rich Sprint will sit out the auction.

The AWS-3 auction is not as straightforward as previous auctions because two chunks of spectrum are currently used by federal agencies, including the Department of Defense. In most cases, federal spectrum users will have to exit the 1695-1710 MHz and 1755-1780 MHz bands or geographically share them with commercial users.

The Report and Order sets flexible-use regulatory, licensing, and technical rules for 65 megahertz of spectrum in the AWS-3 band, which includes the 1695-1710 MHz, 1755-1780 MHz, and 2155-2180 MHz bands.

The FCC adopted rules to allocate and license the 1695-1710 MHz band for uplink/mobile operations on an unpaired shared basis with incumbent Federal meteorological-satellite (MetSat) data users.

The other 50 MHz block is more traditional. They will assign AWS-3 licenses by competitive bidding, offering 5 megahertz and 10 megahertz blocks that can be aggregated using Economic Areas (EAs). The FCC’s decision to license only one paired 5×5 MHz block in smaller Cellular Market Areas (CMAs) was disappointing for most competitive carriers.

The Order will make 50 megahertz (of the total 65 megahertz) of the AWS-3 spectrum available for commercial use. The 15 MHz chunk will be available on a shared basis with federal incumbents.

The 1695-1710 MHz band will be unpaired spectrum used for low-power uplink operations. The 1755-1780 MHz band will be licensed for low-power uplink operations and will be paired with the 2155-2180 MHz band, which is unencumbered by federal users, for downlink operations.

The Advanced Wireless Service (3) auction started on Thursday and could last weeks. It’s the first major sale of airwaves since 2008 when the 700 MHz auction raised some $19 Billion for the treasury. That spectrum is now utilized by AT&T, Verizon and others for nationwide LTE service. The current AWS auction will put some 65 MHz of spectrum on the auction block.

Some proceeds of the AWS-3 auction will go toward FirstNet, the stand alone LTE public safety network, on the 700 MHz band.

Related Dailywireless articles include; 70 Companies Qualified for AWS-3 Auction, Dish Wins Everything in H-Block PCS Auction, FCC Sets AWS-3 Auction Rules, AWS-3 Auction Rules: Who Benefits?, Verizon Activates AWS Band , DOJ Sets Conditions for Verizon AWS, Verizon Getting AWS Spectrum Says WSJ, T-Mobile Okayed to Test Spectrum Sharing, Verizon’s Spectrum Deal: Tough Nut, AT&T Buys 2.3 GHz from NextWave, AT&T Wants 2.3 GHz for LTE, FCC to Okay Verizon/Cable Spectrum Buy