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Credit: Ericsson

With the FCC’s incentive auction all wrapped up, Nokia isn’t the only infrastructure company turning its attention to the 600 MHz band.

Swedish rival Ericsson on Thursday announced it is prepping a suite of 600 MHz products that will be ready for commercial deployment later this year – the third quarter to be exact.

According to Ericsson, its products for the band will be based on its 4478 radio platform, which made its debut at Mobile World Congress last month. The company said its 600 MHz lineup will “maximize low-band spectral efficiency through advanced MIMO capabilities.”

The news from Ericsson came the same day the FCC announced the end of the spectrum auction’s assignment phase, which marked the end of all bidding activity. Just ahead of this milestone last week, Nokia announced it had completed the first pre-standard 600 MHz LTE call using commercially available hardware.

The formal close of the auction will come in the form of public notice from the FCC – complete with winning bid details – sometime in the next few weeks. More on the auction wrap up can be found here.

"The FCC's first-of-its-kind Incentive Auction provides guidance to other countries wishing to repurpose spectrum,” Glenn Laxdal, head of Network Products for Ericsson North America, commented. “The quick deployment of service in the 600 MHz spectrum will help improve the coverage footprint, increase data speeds, and enable continued industry growth."

In its announcement, Ericsson pointed out the new airwaves won in the auction will allow carriers to “extend and enhance” coverage thanks to the propagation characteristics of the low-band airwaves. This will be especially pertinent in rural areas, where 600 MHz will allow for more coverage per cell site.

Ericsson said as of the third quarter it will be ready for commercial deployments in the band, but it seems likely the bulk of deployments will come sometime after that.

A battle over the repacking timeline for broadcasters has long been underway, as carriers push the FCC for quicker access to their newly won spectrum and broadcasters ask for more time to make the transition. The current repacking plan calls for a 39-month transition period for TV broadcasters to pack up and ship out so wireless carriers can move in.

Earlier this month, the National Association of Broadcasters renewed its calls for a reconsideration of this schedule, arguing that repacking on such a large scale will “bring unprecedented logistical and operational challenges for the Commission and the broadcast industry.” The current repacking schedule, the NAB said, is “arbitrary and unfounded,” and fails to take into account the true magnitude of the transition.

Wireless groups like the Competitive Carriers Association, however, have pushed back, contending the NAB’s claims are not just late, but untrue. They amount to nothing more than stall tactics, the association said.

“NAB has tried before – and failed before both the FCC and the DC Circuit Appeals Court – to delay new broadband investment in the 600 MHz band, and I strongly encourage the Commission to reject any attempt to push back the Congressionally-based 39-month repacking timeframe,” CCA CEO Steven Berry said in a statement. “NAB’s Petition is not only late – nearly 1,000 days past the deadline to challenge the Commission’s 2014 order, but it also wrongfully claims that the FCC failed to perform a comprehensive analysis in determining repacking timelines and procedures. NAB’s Petition is nothing more than a regurgitation of its former baseless arguments.”

“Consumers want and demand access to high-speed mobile broadband, and a smooth and timely repacking process will help ensure competitive carriers can bring these services to their customers, especially in rural America,” he concluded.

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