AT&T pursues new STA for 37/39 GHz tests

AT&T is working with several equipment vendors to test new 5G equipment in the 37/39 GHz band prior to equipment certification, including Nokia, Ericsson, Qualcomm and Samsung.

The operator on Wednesday filed an application for Special Temporary Authority (STA) to get the FCC’s permission to supplement a previous STA in order to add the 39200-40000 MHz band and an additional base station transmitter.

AT&T said the tests would use several AT&T gNodeB sites in the Dallas and Waco areas of Texas, as well as in San Diego, San Francisco, New York City and Philadelphia Partial Economic Areas (PEAs). “The testing will prepare AT&T to utilize its 37/39 GHz spectrum as soon as it is licensed,” the carrier said.

Last month, AT&T was granted authorization to conduct nationwide 37/39 GHz tests until November 8, 2020. The new application seeks a time frame of June 15 to December 15, 2020.

AT&T states that it will be using the 5G NR Band 260 spectrum for the testing; specifically, it will use the 38.2-39 GHz and 39.2-40.0 GHz bands. The base station transmitters will come from Ericsson, Nokia and Samsung, with device prototypes from Qualcomm, Samsung and others.

RELATED: AT&T Labs wants to expand 5G tests to 37, 39 GHz bands in several markets

AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile were the top bidders in the FCC’s largest spectrum auction to date – Auction 103, which ended in March and included licenses in the upper 37, the 39 and 47 GHz bands. Verizon was the top spender in that auction, but AT&T was able to improve its 39 GHz spectrum position to 786 MHz, an increase of 102%. Before that auction, AT&T had acquired 379 MHz of 39 GHz spectrum when it purchased FiberTower for $207 million in early 2018.

When added to the mmWave spectrum AT&T already held in the 24 GHz band, AT&T’s average spectrum depth post-Auction 103 increased to more than 1,040 MHz nationwide. However, Verizon is still king when it comes to mmWave spectrum, having amassed 2,024 MHz of mmWave spectrum, according to Brian Goemmer, president of AllNet Insights.

AT&T isn’t the only one eager to conduct more tests. T-Mobile’s STA application to conduct tests in the 39 GHz band in several markets, including Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas; and Irvine and San Diego, California, was still pending with the FCC at last check. That calls for a start date of June 7, ending December 7, 2020.

In mid-range spectrum that has yet to be auctioned, Verizon has asked for experimental authorization to use the 3.7 – 3.8 GHz band; that’s in portions of Basking Ridge, New Jersey; Westlake, Texas; Sunnyvale, California; and Grand Rapids and Lansing, Michigan. The 100 MHz sought under the experimental authorization is a subset of the recently expanded flexible use C-band in the ranges of 3.7 - 3.98 GHz, which will be auctioned starting at the end of this year.