T-Mobile is partnering with FOX Television Stations (FTS) to accelerate the repacking of its 600 MHz spectrum by 16 months and reducing overall costs for the Incentive Auction Relocation fund by tens of millions.
As part of the agreement, WWOR-TV will repack in early 2018, over a year sooner than the originally proposed FCC deadline of August 2019, and will do it for less money. This agreement ensures WWOR-TV viewers maintain access to the programming while T-Mobile enhances wireless coverage and capacity in the New York City area.
This agreement is part of T-Mobile’s broader commitment to work with broadcasters occupying 600 MHz spectrum to assist them in moving to new frequencies. Earlier this year, PBS and America’s Public Television Stations (APTS) announced a partnership with T-Mobile to assist rural translators in the move to new airwaves.
“We’re committed to working with broadcasters across the country to clear 600 MHz spectrum, so we can preserve programming and bring increased wireless choice and competition across the country!” said Neville Ray, chief technology officer at T-Mobile.
Even though there is no standard yet, Ericsson announced that its platform now includes an FDD radio from capable of supporting 5G and Massive Multiple Input Multiple Output (Massive MIMO). The new radio will provide a bridge between fourth generation and fifth generation wireless using today’s spectrum allocations.
The AIR 3246 is designed to complement to Ericsson’s global 5G radio offering, supporting both 4G/LTE and 5G NR (New Radio) technologies. Operators will be able to bring 5G to subscribers using mid-band spectrum and boost capacity in their LTE networks.
Ericsson’s 5G Platform includes three previously launched time division duplex (TDD) radios capable of supporting 5G and Massive MIMO, as well as core, transport, digital support and security elements.
The radio will enhance 4G capacity for subscribers today and simplify the transition to 5G in the future, according to Fredrik Jejdling, head of Business Area Networks at Ericsson.
Stefan Pongratz, Senior Director at the Dell’Oro Group, said, “With an expected installed base of 10 million LTE macro radios in high traffic and metro areas by 2021, service providers are expected to capitalize on the improved spectral efficiency made possible with Massive MIMO.”
FDD Massive MIMO is part of a trial with T-Mobile US, on three sites in Baltimore, Maryland, which will be the first time that standardized Massive MIMO will be used to carry commercial LTE traffic using mid-band FDD spectrum.
Massive MIMO on FDD can increase network capacity up to three times and bring up to five times better user throughput, boosting performance for the end users. Today’s global base is primarily on FDD technology and devices, which separates uplink and downlink streams on different radio frequencies.
Commercially available in the second quarter 2018, AIR 3246 will be part of Ericsson Radio System.
With characteristic bravado, T-Mobile has begun lighting up its 600 MHz LTE network, switching on a Nokia transmitter on a rooftop in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
T-Mobile’s 600 MHz LTE network rollout will initially be in rural America and other markets where the spectrum is already clear of broadcasting. Those deployments and other network upgrades will increase T-Mobile’s total LTE coverage from 315 million Americans today to 321 million.
By the end of the year, an additional 600 MHz sites are slated for locations in Wyoming, Northwest Oregon, West Texas, Southwest Kansas, the Oklahoma panhandle, western North Dakota, Maine, coastal North Carolina, Central Pennsylvania, Central Virginia and Eastern Washington.
In an ex parte meeting with FCC personnel, T-Mobile officials said they expect to have at least 10 megahertz of 600 MHz spectrum ready for deployment across “more than one million square miles” by the end of this year, including “hundreds of thousands of square miles” of rural areas.
T-Mo CTO Neville Ray applauded the speed of the deployment effort in the 600 MHz frequencies.
“This team broke every record in the books with the speed of our 700 MHz LTE deployment, and we’re doing it again. T-Mobile is effectively executing in six months what would normally be a two-year process,” said Ray said. “We won’t stop … and we won’t slow down!”
The operator is using “low-band” spectrum won in the government broadcast incentive auction concluded earlier this year, and yesterday’s announcement came two months after the carrier received its spectrum licenses from the FCC.
The speed of T-Mobile’s rollout is no accident. In February 2016, T-Mobile, in conjunction with Broadcast Tower Technologies and Hammett & Edison, set out a plan to maximize the resources needed to move the TV broadcasters from the band and rollout the needed technology.
T-Mobile worked with Nokia, Qualcomm, Samsung and LG to ensure the right transmitter and handset technology would be available when the rollout began. It is also collaborating with the FCC and broadcasters such as the Public Broadcasting System to quickly clear the spectrum.
Moreover, T-Mobile worked with Electronics Research to make sure that adequate broadcast antennas and installation crews would be available for the TV stations’ move to new spectrum. Antenna production capacity was increased by 800 percent by the end of 2016, and production began at the end of the auction when new channels were assigned to broadcasters.
Additionally, T-Mobile went above and beyond the FCC’s spectrum clearing requirements of the auction winner, committing to pay for new low-power facilities used by local public television stations that are required to relocate to new broadcasting frequencies because of the auction.
J. Sharpe Smith is senior editor of the AGL eDigest. He joined AGL in 2007 as contributing editor to the magazine and as editor of eDigest email newsletter. He has 27 years of experience writing about industrial communications, paging, cellular, small cells, DAS and towers. Previously, he worked for the Enterprise Wireless Alliance as editor of the Enterprise Wireless Magazine. Before that, he edited the Wireless Journal for CTIA and he began his wireless journalism career with Phillips Publishing, now Access Intelligence.
July 18, 2017 —
While the Washington Nationals easily handled the Seattle Mariners during a recent game, the real contest was between performances of the cellular networks and the Wi-Fi system as they battled to provide the best online experience.
During a recent major league baseball game at Washington Nationals Park, independent network benchmarking firm Global Wireless Solutions (GWS) conducted customer experience mobile network testing. The tests revealed that, both before and during the game, the Wi-Fi system excelled in the area of speed but fell behind cellular when it came to reliability.
Paul Carter, CEO GWS, said, “People want a reliable network with reasonable speed that works when you make a call, post a selfie, or load a video. If you’re at a major sporting event, you want to quickly take care of your online activities and watch the game not your phone.”
Before the game, the carriers’ data speeds for a 4 mb file upload (the size of a Snapchat video) ranged from 1 to 4 Mbps, according to Global Wireless Solutions, while the Wi-Fi network averaged speeds of 8 Mbps.
AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile also provided consistent speeds throughout the evening, while Verizon’s speeds dropped sharply during the game, according to GWS’ testing. For example, Verizon’s download speeds for watching a short video clip fell from 2.8 Mbps before the game to 1.6 Mbps during the game, before rising to 4.2 Mbps after the game
Wi-Fi Speed Crushes Cellular
During the game when the Park was the busiest, the Wi-Fi network was capable of delivering an average of roughly 32 Mbps, while the fastest cellular network, AT&T, averaged 25 Mbps.
“The $300-million program to bring Wi-Fi to every major league baseball park in the United States has brought in-seat connectivity into the 21st century,” the firm wrote. “When measuring potential capacity download throughputs, the Nationals Park Wi-Fi network was overall higher than those measured on cellular networks.
Cellular Owns Reliability
However, while the Park’s Wi-Fi was the quickest, it was not the most reliable. All the carriers were more reliable in completing data tasks, nearly 100 percent, while Wi-Fi was several percentage points behind.
“A consistent Internet experience is highly valued. Steady with reasonable speed is a better experience than a network which is fast, then becomes too slow to undertake some common tasks, then suddenly speeds up again,” Carter, said. “If you want to share a photo or send a video, you want your network to support that dependably. For some baseball fans, the WiFi network in the Park can provide a better experience than their own LTE connection.”
For voice calls AT&T, Sprint and Verizon all had 100 percent reliability with AT&T and Verizon using VoLTE the entire time. T-Mobile, also using VoLTE, wasn’t far behind, however, it did experience 1 in 12 calls failing before the game started.
July 6, 2017 —
T-Mobile, which has recently laid claim to the 600 MHz band for 5G, has set its sights on including 3.5 GHz in with the 5G spectrum ecosystem. The carrier has petitioned the FCC to look at modifying the rules governing 3550-3700 MHz, known as the Citizens Broadband Radio Service to better facilitate 5G technologies.
T-Mobile’s Petition of Rule Making asks the FCC to auction all 150 megahertz of the spectrum in the 3.5 GHz band to the Priority Access License (PAL) licensees while maintaining opportunities to licensed-by-rule licensees using the spectrum access system.
In a blog post this week, T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray made the case that the FCC needs to look to more bands other than the millimeter band to achieve the promise of 5G, and he said 3.5 GHz fits that bill.
“3.5 GHz Is great mid-band spectrum for 5G. As the current FCC has recognized, a balanced spectrum portfolio, including mid-band spectrum – between 1 GHz and 6 GHz – is essential to ensure the United States has complete 5G networks,” Ray wrote. “It has better coverage characteristics than high-band spectrum, meaning that it can help deliver the promise of 5G to rural areas.”
The Petition notes that while 5G technologies are expected to use 40-50 megahertz channels, the FCC’s CBRS rules limit PALS to 70 megahertz per market. That licensing structure would limit the number of carriers to one per market, which would strip OEMs of the impetus to make handsets for the band, T-Mobile said.
“In order to optimize the 3.5 GHz band for 5G, there must be an opportunity for multiple carriers to aggregate larger bandwidths,” T-Mobile writes.
Additionally, the 3.5 GHz band is adjacent to spectrum that has been proposed for 5G in Sen. Thune’s MOBILE NOW legislation (between 3100 MHz and 3550 MHz and 3700-4200 MHz). Ray notes that CBRS coupled with the Mobile NOW spectrum would equal 1100 megahertz of spectrum, which he refers to as a “great start.”