AT&T Plans Could Mean LTE iPhone For Wind and Mobilicity
With AT&T planning on using T-Mobile’s AWS network to build out an LTE network, North America will have a 130+ million subscriber mobile operator with an next-generation network operating on the 1700 MHz AWS band.
This is potentially great news for Wind and Mobilicity.
Most previous talk about LTE/4G has centered around the 700 MHz band in the upcoming spectrum auctions both in Canada and the US. This spectrum is highly coveted because it penetrates buildings well. Currently, no network operators own this spectrum so the bidding process is expected to be highly competitive.
In Canada, the limited resources of the new entrants means that they would have to rely on the CRTC to block off a certain amount of spectrum for them, or else Bell, Rogers, and Telus would simply buy it all up. Even still, the allocated amount would likely not be great, and would still be quite costly for the new entrants. With their future networks on the line, this would be a significant investment which they would eventually have to recoup from their customers.
The new entrants can not afford to miss out on the prime spectrum, not because it is inherently good, but because of the devices that will be built for it. With all the large US telecoms going for 700 MHz LTE spectrum, this is where the iPhone (6,7,8?), the iPad (3,4,5?), the new BlackBerrys, and the best Android devices will operate. None of these companies is going to make a special version of their devices for a Canadian telecom with 300,000 subscribers.
However, the decision by AT&T to use the AWS spectrum to build out LTE in the US will make all the big device manufacturers plan for AWS capable devices. Wind and Mobilicity just got a big helping hand from AT&T. Furthermore, with AT&T being a GSM network, it opens up the possibility of bringing AT&T devices north with a SIM to operate on AWS networks here.
Then there’s the possibility of better roaming agreements for Wind and Mobilicity in the US.
It will be interesting to see what Bell, Rogers, and Telus do with their LTE plans. They currently each have some AWS spectrum sitting unused as well. Will Canada’s LTE use 700 MHz and 1700 MHz, or will we have an annoying split still?