Report Criticizes Lack of 700 MHz Cellular Interoperability (11/8/11)
Tuesday, November 08, 2011 | Comments

A new report criticizes the lack of interoperability in the 700 MHz band, citing consequences from negative impacts on governmental budgets to increased costs for services to fewer opportunities for broadband growth.

The Rural Cellular Association (RCA)-sponsored report focuses on the consumer 700 MHz spectrum, but public safety has broadband spectrum in the band and could be affected as well. “The introduction and continuation of non-interoperability across the various band classes defined for the 700 MHz spectrum for mobile communications in the U.S. has a number of serious adverse consequences,” said the report.

The report cites reduced revenues and federal budget contributions from future spectrum auctions; adverse effects to the FCC’s national broadband plan (NBP); and negative impact to competition, innovation and pricing in the U.S. wireless market.

“It is distressing that the two largest U.S. wireless operators — Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility — introduced 700 MHz services based on noninteroperability that increase their market power in the U.S. at the expense of all other service providers and stakeholders,” the report said. The report follows a 2010 report from RCA that called on the FCC to ensure all 700 MHz devices worked in all portions of the band. AT&T and Verizon Wireless want to support only certain bands within the spectrum specific to their licenses and potentially the D block and public-safety spectrum.

“Their argument that non-interoperability is an inevitable consequence of requirements to avoid or mitigate interference is disingenuous and ignores interoperable alternatives for the 700 MHz band in which interference will not be an issue,” the report said. The report is authored by Martyn Roetter, Alan Pearce, and Barry Goodstadt from Information Age Economics and is available here.

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