What on earth is going on with AWS-3 deployment?

Mar 15, 2018

Verizon and AT&T have been somewhat vague with their AWS-3 deployment schedule, which is understandable when you consider the inherent complexities.

We know that AWS-3 licenses were recently auctioned in 2015, generating a record $45 billion in proceeds, as part of an ongoing initiative to make more spectrum available for commercial purposes. This is great, but given the potentially lengthy process for transitioning users, timelines for when this spectrum would actually be deployed have been the subject of considerable debate.

So what’s going on with AWS-3 today?

Thanks to public license and auction data, we know Verizon and AT&T hold licenses for 10 MHz of AWS-3 spectrum, which can significantly broaden their networks in San Francisco and San Jose. With press releases and auction data alone however, we don’t know when these blocks will be available or when carriers will deploy new networks.

So how can we find out?

Using our sensor platform, we measured activity in the San Francisco Bay Area in November and again in February for a contextual understanding of AWS-3 deployment.

We learned that:

  • The spectrum has been cleared and operators have started to deploy AWS-3 in select markets only.

  • Verizon started deploying as early as November 2017 in the Bay Area.

  • Both AT&T and Verizon have made substantial progress and investment deploying 10 MHz LTE-FDD in San Jose.

Now that we have a view into Verizon and AT&T’s AWS-3 deployment, we’ll continue tracking it and watching AWS-3 accelerate. This will in turn allow us to answer more questions, like:

  • Which markets will they deploy AWS-3 in next?

  • How quickly are they building on the AWS-3 licenses?

The answers to these questions will provide previously unattainable market insights. We’ll be sure to share them when we find them.

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