updated 04:15 pm EDT, Wed March 14, 2012
T-Mobile sends letter to FCC for 4G LTE roaming
T-Mobile USA has sent a letter to the FCC (PDF), asking it that all 700MHz LTE bands are interoperable between carriers. Such a move would motivate roaming and help the public in terms of safety, T-Mobile wrote. A meeting is scheduled for next week, at which the FCC will decide whether the interference between 700MHz B and C block operations could be mitigated if the lower band were to be made interoperable.
Current LTE devices used by AT&T won't work on Verizon's LTE network because the two carriers use different band classes. Other carriers that share T-Mobile's stance include Vulcan Wireless, King Street Wireless (who is a bidding partner of US Cellular), C Spire Wireless, and MetroPCS. The same carriers pushed for the FCC to mandate that AT&T's purchase of Qualcomm spectrum allows roaming on the new network.
The ability to offer roaming on 4G LTE networks on the 700MHz frequency would make networks more competitive, T-Mobile argued. It will also benefit first responders, allowing FirstNet, an authority that manages the public safety network, to fulfill its obligations as it won't need to produce multiple devices to work on all the different networks.
AT&T and Verizon are against a government-mandated stipulation, arguing it doesn't have the authority to do so. It would also involve that they incur significant development costs. Critics, however, have mostly seen it as an attempt to force users to buy new devices if they switch networks, discouraging easy switches. T-Mobile, if successful, would lead to at least AT&T and Verizon users being able to share devices like iPads. T-Mobile wouldn't automatically get support, since it's expecting to use higher frequencies for its own LTE. [via FierceWireless]