NEW YORK (AP) – Federal regulators are letting AT&T use an unused part of the airwaves for mobile broadband, potentially increasing the speed and capacity of its new LTE network.
The Federal Communications Commission voted Wednesday to revise the rules for a spectrum band known as Wireless Communications Services, or WCS. The order sets aside part of the band to protect Sirius XM Radio Inc.’s satellite service, which uses an adjacent band, and eases restrictions on the rest of the band.
The revision is in line with an agreement between AT&T Inc. and Sirius and was expected.
Joan Marsh, AT&T’s vice president in charge of dealing with federal regulators, said the Dallas-based company could start deploying equipment for the spectrum band in three years.
AT&T needs more space on the airwaves to cope with increasing data usage and lost some space this year to T-Mobile USA. AT&T failed to get regulatory approval for its acquisition of T-Mobile and had to surrender some spectrum licenses as part of the breakup fee.
The FCC auctioned off the WCS spectrum in 1997, but it’s never been put to meaningful use because of the potential for interference.
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