AT&T owns >630 MHz nationwide of mmWave spectrum + HPE partnership for Edge Networking & Computing

Following the close of FCC Auction 102, AT&T won 24 GHz spectrum in 383 Partial Economic Areas (PEAs) for a nationwide average of 254 MHz. All of the licenses won were in the more valuable upper 500 MHz portion of the 24 GHz band, giving AT&T stronger nationwide coverage and additional spectrum depth and capacity in many top markets where demand is often greatest. In the top 10 markets alone, AT&T won nearly 286 MHz on average, including 300 MHz in 8 of those markets.

“We’re leading the nation in mobile 5G deployment and the large, contiguous block of spectrum we won in Auction 102 will be critical to maintaining that leadership,” said Scott Mair, president of AT&T Operations. “We’ve already been recognized for having the nation’s fastest1 and best2wireless network, and by further strengthening our spectrum position, we intend to build on our success. I’d like to congratulate and thank the FCC on the conclusion of another successful auction.”

The licenses it won cover all top 50 PEAs and 99 of the top 100 PEAs.  When added to the mmWave spectrum AT&T already holds in the 39 GHz band, AT&T’s average spectrum depth in mmWave increased by two-thirds to more than 630 MHz nationwide.

AT&T will use the spectrum to bolster its mobile 5G strategy. AT&T was the first U.S. wireless carrier to introduce mobile 5G service. The company’s 5G service is currently available in parts of 19 cities – more than any other wireless carrier – with plans to reach parts of 29 cities by the end of 2019. In the first half of 2020, the company expects to have the best combination of mobile 5G, providing high speeds and low latency service over mmWave spectrum and nationwide 5G service over “sub-6” spectrum.

The company spent about $980 million to win an average of 254 MHz of 24 GHz spectrum in 383 out of about 400 total partial economic areas (PEAs) nationwide. The winnings supplement the company’s previous millimeter wave spectrum holdings in the 39 GHz band.

The key appeal of millimeter wave spectrum is that large swaths of it are available, enabling the spectrum to support the highest speeds – although service deployed in the millimeter wave band has less range than service deployed in lower-frequency bands. AT&T’s initial 5G deployments have been in the millimeter wave band, but the company eventually expects to use a combination of millimeter wave and lower frequency spectrum to support 5G.

The average 630 MHz of millimeter wave spectrum that AT&T now holds in key markets would appear to position the company well to support high speeds, as the company previously achieved speeds of 1.2 Gbps in trials using a 400 MHz channel over a distance of 150 meters.

The company also has said that it has seen speeds as high as 400 Mbps on its commercial 5G network, although it cautioned that average speeds are lower.

AT&T also noted in a press release that the licenses it won in the 24 GHz band were in the “valuable” upper 500 MHz of the 24 GHz band and that the licenses cover all top 50 PEAs and 99 of the top 100 PEAs.

Late last year, AT&T was the first U.S. carrier to launch mobile 5G service, although the company did not have a smartphone available for use with the network until last week.  Customers initially used 5G-capable Wi-Fi hotspots that work with virtually any smartphone to access the network, which now covers parts of 19 cities.  AT&T plans to expand to parts of 10 more cities by the end of 2019 and to launch nationwide service in the first half of 2020.

The company’s initial target for 5G service is business customers – a decision that enabled the company to plan its initial 5G millimeter wave deployments for areas in which key business customers were located. The company also has said that it hopes to command a premium for 5G service in comparison with what it charges for earlier-generation services – a strategy that U.S. wireless carriers have not used previously.



Separately, AT&T said it will work with Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) to help businesses harness powerful edge capabilities. The two companies have agreed to a go-to-market program to accelerate business adoption of edge connections and edge computing.

Edge computing marks a giant leap forward in providing faster processing and potentially enhanced security for business applications. AT&T Multi-access Edge Compute (MEC) Services enable businesses to take advantage of AT&T cellular coverage – including 5G as it becomes available – as well as new capabilities to manage cellular traffic through virtual network functions. HPE Edgeline Converged Edge Systems help create use cases where applications can reside on premises for lower latency processing.

“AT&T’s software-defined network, including our 5G network, combined with HPE’s intelligent edge infrastructure can give businesses a flexible tool to better analyze data and process low-latency, high-bandwidth applications,” said Mo Katibeh, Chief Marketing Officer, AT&T Business. “Bringing compute power closer to our network helps businesses push the boundaries of what is possible and create innovative new solutions.”

Enabling edge computing is a core tenet in AT&T’s strategy to help businesses get the most out of 5G. This is an important step in bringing these technologies to scale, so businesses can continue to transform how they will use networks in the 5G era.

“HPE believes that the enterprise of the future will need to be edge-centric, cloud-enabled and data-driven to turn all of its data into action and value,” said Jim Jackson, Chief Marketing Officer, HPE. “Our go-to-market alliance with AT&T, using HPE Edgeline Converged Edge Systems, will help deliver AT&T MEC services at scale to help our customers more quickly convert data into actionable intelligence, enabling unique digital experiences and smarter operations.”


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3 thoughts on “AT&T owns >630 MHz nationwide of mmWave spectrum + HPE partnership for Edge Networking & Computing

  1. HP: 7 Reasons Why We Need to Compute at the Edge

    1. Latency. What good is an Internet-connected car if there’s a lag between when a child appears in front of the car and when the system actually tells the car to stop? Ideally, there should be no latency at all, but there usually is. Even worse, there’s a chance that the connection can be lost entirely. (Ever experience a dropped call on your cell phone?) For some mission-critical functions, latency is intolerable and you must compute on the edge. This is true even when speeds increase. When 5G rolls out commercial in 2018, for instance, it will be an improvement from the current latency but still not as fail-safe as edge computing is today.

    2. Bandwidth. Sending data from edge devices to the cloud or a data center (Bradicich points out that the difference is academic because “A cloud is just a data center that no one is supposed to know where it is”) can use a tremendous amount of bandwidth. Fearing that such devices will be a drag on the system, some have proposed creating a separate network for the IoT. You can greatly curtail that drag by eliminating the need to send data back and forth. Many companies simply can’t handle the bandwidth needs of IoT right now.

    3. Compliance. There are laws or policies in certain countries governing the regional transfer of data. Companies that embrace IoT often run up against such compliance issues.

    4. Security. If you are going to send data all over the place, it will be vulnerable to attacks and breaches. Already, hackers have found ways to breach everything from cars to baby monitors that are connected to the Internet.

    5. Cost. Extra bandwidth and extra security will inevitably cost extra as well. Since companies are often motivated to save money by realizing efficiencies via IoT, keeping costs down is of prime concern.

    6. Duplication. If you are going to collect data and send it to the cloud there will inevitably be some duplication. While it might not reach 100%, if you collect 10 TB of data on the edge and then send it to the cloud, then that’s a duplication.

    7. Data corruption. Even without any nefarious activity from hackers, data will be corrupted on its own. Retries, drops and missed connections will plague edge-to-data-center communications. Obviously, that’s a bigger deal for mission-critical applications.

  2. In February, HPE announced that it had upgraded its edge platform to help carriers transition to 5G services. HPE’s Edgeline EL8000 Converged Edge System was designed to help service providers process data intensive, low-latency services directly at the edge of networks. In addition to 5G, HPE said the EL8000 was also ideal for provisioning smart cities, artificial intelligence, video analytics and media delivery.

    HPE previously said it was partnering with systems integrator Tech Mahindra, which develops MEC software, to create MEC solutions.

  3. AT&T brought its high-band millimeter-wave 5G network to parts of downtown New York City bringing its launch total to 21 cities, the telecom announced noting that, as in other markets, the service will be limited to business customers. The carrier added that it will expand its 5G coverage to sub-6 GHz frequencies “in the coming months.”

    AT&T has multiple versions of 5G, with 5G+ denoting its super-fast but limited range millimeter-wave flavor. The company also has “sub-6” spectrum that covers wider areas but at slower speeds which it will simply call “5G.” Both of those forms of actual 5G are different than 5GE, the rebranding of AT&T’s improved but existing 4G network that is currently available across the country.

    “As a densely-populated, global business and entertainment hub, New York City stands to benefit greatly from having access to 5G, and we’ve been eager to introduce the service here,” said Amy Kramer, president of AT&T’s New York region, in a statement. “While our initial availability in NYC is a limited introduction at launch, we’re committed to working closely with the City to extend coverage to more neighborhoods throughout the five boroughs.”

    Though limited in range, New York becomes the twenty-first city where AT&T has deployed 5G, extending the company’s early lead in the 5G race over Verizon (nine cities), T-Mobile (six) and Sprint (five). Those rival carriers, however, are letting anyone use their respective networks, not just select businesses or developers.

    It is still unclear when AT&T will make 5G available to everyone, but the company plans to deploy a nationwide 5G network on its wider-ranging “sub-6” spectrum in the “first half of 2020.”

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