AT&T has already begun rolling out 4G LTE coverage using its 700MHz spectrum and will eventually utilize its 1700MHz spectrum for the same purpose. It looks like AT&T would like to add another band to its LTE spectrum collection, though, as the carrier has filed a proposal with the FCC asking for the green light to roll out LTE coverage on the 2.3GHz Wireless Communications Services (WCS) band. The FCC actually filed an order in May 2010 that allowed for mobile broadband to be deployed on the 2.3GHz band, but AT&T feels that the rules didn't allow for the service to be rolled out in an efficient manner. AT&T's proposal, which was filed jointly with Sirius XM, includes accommodations AT&T feels would allow it to efficiently deploy mobile broadband (LTE included) without posing an interference threat to satellite radio reception.
If AT&T's proposal is approved, it could activate LTE service that'd cover around 40 percent of the U.S. Unfortunately, AT&T doesn't offer up an idea of when users may see the benefits of this WCS LTE coverage, but Credit Suisse analyst Jonathan Chaplin suggests that it could take between three to five years for AT&T to make the spectrum usable. AT&T included in its proposal a request to extend the buildout requirements with the WCS band, which currently say that licensees must cover 40 percent of an area's population within 42 months and 75 percent within 72 months.
Obviously there are still some details up in the air concerning the 2.3GHz WCS spectrum, and it's not yet clear if the FCC will even approve AT&T and Sirius XM's proposal. Still, this latest effort combined with AT&T expressing interest in 700MHz spectrum from Cox and Verizon show that the big blue carrier is working to expand its spectrum intended for LTE use, something that I'm sure AT&T customers are glad to see. We'll keep an eye on AT&T's latest FCC proposal and pass along any important updates that occur.