Sprint, Spectrum Holdings, PCS 1900 MHz, LTE and Network Sharing

I have to admit that the diverse nature of spectrum holdings and wireless technologies used by mobile network operators in the US keeps me mystified and it's not easy to find out who has what kind of spectrum available. Back in 2011 I did a bands comparison between the US and Europe (see here) and came to the conclusion that there is pretty much the same amount of spectrum available for cellular on both continents. But this post tells little about which company owned which parts in each band. This is where these two posts (see here and here) provide some very interesting background information.

If (or when?) someone starts deploying LTE in the PCS 1900 MHz band, it would be one of the few bands worldwide in which four technologies are deployed simultaneously, GSM, UTMS, CDMA and LTE. Needless to say that manufacturing devices for the US (and for other continents with roaming capabilities) that can be used on more than one network in the US is getting more and more difficult. Also there is some talk of two carriers combining their surplus PCS resources for a common LTE network. Again very interesting from a device perspective as for one carrier such a device would have to support CDMA in addition to LTE while devices for the other carrier would have to support GSM/HSPA + LTE.

It must be happy days for Qualcomm who seems to be the only chipset maker so far that produces basebands that can do GSM, CDMA, HSPA and LTE simultaneously. Oh how I love the spectrum simplicity in other parts of the world 🙂

One thought on “Sprint, Spectrum Holdings, PCS 1900 MHz, LTE and Network Sharing”

  1. The US has long gone its own way on spectrum matters or rather more specifically on the technology it chooses to use in particular spectrum. At least it follows the Radio Regulations and enshrines the decisions of World Radiocommunications Conferences into its rule books. But it could benefit itself and the rest of the world more by also fitting in with prevailing technology choices. Too much choice can be a bad thing and fragment the market. Multiple technologies and frequency bands in the same device also compromises performance to some degree as well.

    The US has argued that its fragmented markets are still big enough to foster competition, but as the World rapidly catches up, overtakes and becomes increasingly mobile (in the literal sense), how long can this attitude continue I wonder?

    A parallel could be drawn with how China is ‘experimenting’ with different mobile technologies. Those unique markets are also big enough to support healthy technology populations so long as they have no need to roam. Must make life for manufacturers (particularly foreign ones) very difficult, but maybe that is the idea.

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