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Carrier Wrap: Verizon Wireless completes 700 MHz sale; SK Telecom expands LTE-A support

Editor’s Note: Wireless operators are a busy bunch, and as such RCR Wireless News will attempt to gather some of the important announcements that may slip through the cracks from the world’s largest carriers in a weekly wrap-up. Enjoy!

–Verizon Wireless this week said it has completed the sale of lower 700 MHz B-Block licenses covering Charlotte, Greensboro and Raleigh-Durham, N.C., to Grain Management in exchange for $189 million. The carrier has also begun leasing from Grain Management a 1.7/2.1 GHz spectrum license covering Dallas, which Grain acquired from AT&T.

The deal was announced earlier this year and completed the necessary sell off of 700 MHz spectrum assets required by government regulators as part of its $3.9 billion spectrum deal approved mid-2012. The carrier noted that it managed to sell off its lower 700 MHz spectrum assets to seven entities, including five small or regional telecom players and one minority owned firm.

–Sprint announced the launch of its Pinsight Touch platform designed to provide storage and accessing “credentials” on a mobile device in support of mobile payment services. The platform was launched in connection with Sequent to enable developers to add NFC functionality into branded consumer applications.

–AT&T this week added more details to its plans to launch high-speed fiber services in Austin, Texas. The carrier, which had initially announced plans earlier this year, said it plans to deliver a 1 gigabit per second broadband network to Austin beginning later this year. The telecom operator noted the offering would build off of its U-verse platform, adding the “GigaPower” moniker and offering symmetrical speeds of up to 300 megabits per second. Customer selecting that service will then be upgraded to the 1 Gbps speed by the mid-2014 for the same price.

AT&T claims the gigabit offer will reach “tens of thousands” of customers in Austin this year, with further expansion planned for next year. Google earlier this year announced similar plans to launch a 1 Gbps broadband service in Austin.

–AT&T Mobility expanded its LTE reach this week, announcing new coverage in Sebastian-Vero Beach, Fla.; Dublin and Cordele, Ga.; Mt. Pleasant, Mich.; Natchez and Picayune, Miss.; Brenham, Texas; Selma, Ala.; Port Angeles, Wash.; and Lake Charles, La. AT&T Mobility has said it plans to cover more than 400 markets and 270 million potential customers with LTE by year end.

–SK Telecom said it has begun offering LTE service using wider bandwidth in the 1.8 GHz spectrum band, with plans to cover the Seoul area with the enhanced offering by the end of the month. The deeper support comes from 35 megahertz of spectrum SK Telecom picked up in late August, which the carrier said will support 20 megahertz downlink channels providing up to 150 megabit per seconds of data services. Devices will need to support the LTE-Advanced capabilities to tap into those increased speeds, while those lacking that support will be limited to theoretical speeds of just 100 Mbps.

SK Telecom previously said it plans to further tap into the carrier aggregation capabilities of LTE-Advanced to combine the newly acquired 1.8 GHz spectrum with its 800 MHz spectrum holdings to bolster network speeds up to 225 Mbps by next year. The carrier has already begun the carrier aggregation process, announcing earlier this year the move to combine 20 megahertz of spectrum in the 1.8 GHz band with 20 megahertz in the 800 MHz band across 84 markets. Those plans will also see the carrier install LTE-A on 32,000 cell sites by the end of the year.

A report released in August by Signals Research Group found average downlink speeds of 62 Mbps and peak speeds of 141 Mbps via an LTE-A network in Seoul.

Additional carrier news can be found on the RCR Wireless News “Carriers” page.

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