Sunday, June 15, 2014

AT&T's dubious "wireless local loop" strategy to boost Internet reach if DirecTV deal blessed by regulators

AT&T’s hard sell on DirecTV: A new type of broadband network - Yahoo Finance: AT&T, however, still owns those 2.3 GHz airwaves in the Wireless Communications Services (WCS) band. In fact, it recently consolidated its WCS holdings across much of the country. And through a compromise with the satellite radio industry, it managed to clear the interference issues that previously made the band useless for wireless data services.

AT&T has said it will use WCS for LTE, but it’s beginning to look like it won’t build the same kind of LTE network it uses to connect phones, tablets and cars. Broadband spectrum analyst Tim Farrar believes AT&T plans to use those 2.3 GHz frequencies for its planned air-to-ground in-flight network. It may choose to use WCS for its fixed wireless network as well. Instead of transmitting to a plane in the sky, the network could link to an antenna. And that antenna could be conveniently mounted on a DirecTV satellite dish – all part of a bundled broadband and TV package.
This is more of the same 23rd century Star Trek quantum subspace channel magical thinking to rationalize an ABF (anything but fiber) infrastructure deployment strategy. Frequencies in that band may work in relatively flat terrain like AT&T's home state of Texas. But they can't penetrate more rugged and forested portions of AT&T's service territory where many premises are still only offered antiquated 1990s dialup Internet. A small New Hampshire wireless Internet service provider explains the problem in this item:
“The challenge with our technology is the land, the hills and valleys,” says Foucher. “The amount of trees is the other major factor. We might be able to connect one person, but their next-door neighbor might be behind a stand of trees that absorb the signals"
And consider this excerpt from a Wall Street Journal item on AT&T's Federal Communications Commission filing on the proposed merger:
If the deal goes ahead, however, it’s unclear how much of an improvement the fixed wireless technology will be. In its application with Federal Communications Commission for the DirecTV deal, AT&T said the transaction makes investing in the technology more feasible, but noted that the service is “relatively untested technology” and “its success in the marketplace is thus unproven.”

1 comment:

InfoStack said...

Even if this was one of the prime drivers of the merger, the same result could occur via joint venture agreements. They don't need to take on a $50bn headache that ultimately will create its own set of problems.

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