AT&T walks back promise to support 3.45GHz on older phones

Shawn Knight

Posts: 14,454   +171
Staff member
Facepalm: AT&T has cleared up some confusion regarding 5G device compatibility, and it's not good news for some users. Several new-ish phones like the iPhone 12, iPhone 13, Galaxy S21 and Pixel 6 will not support the mid-band spectrum after all.

As Ars Technica recounts, AT&T last month told CNET that it would be releasing a software update to allow select "older" handsets to leverage its newly acquired 3.45GHz C-band spectrum.

AT&T picked up the spectrum during the Federal Communications Commission's spectrum auction back in January in what proved to be the third highest grossing auction in FCC history. The telecom led the pack with 1,624 licenses acquired for a total of $9.08 billion. Dish Network (bidding as Weminuche LLC) finished in second place in the auction with $7.33 billion spent for 1,232 licenses. T-Mobile took home the bronze, agreeing to shell out $2.9 billion for 199 licenses.

Shortly after the auction, AT&T executive Chris Sambar told CNET that "the major flagship devices in 2022, the big devices from the big OEMs, they will have 3.45GHz support starting this year and going forward."

As you can imagine, it was a refreshing bit of news when AT&T expanded on device support in August. Unfortunately, it was all a big mistake.

AT&T representative Jim Greer recently confirmed to Ars Technica that only 2022 and newer devices can be certified by the FCC to use 3.45GHz. Previous statements made about support on older phones was "provided by mistake and then incorrectly confirmed," Greer added.

An updated list of compatible devices provided to CNET includes the Galaxy S22 family, the Galaxy Z Flip 4, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and the iPhone 14 family.

Greer's statement seems to pin the blame for the lack of support on the FCC and its handling of certifications.

It's worth clarifying that those with 5G phones on AT&T will still be able to leverage its 3.7GHz C-Band as well as low-band and mmWave frequencies. The 3.45GHz spectrum will simply help AT&T create a stronger mid-band network for devices that can tap into it.

AT&T told CNET it is providing information to store teams about its 3.45GHz network and which devices support it, but it's unclear how much of this will trickle down to customers and factor into their buying decisions.

Image credit: Christian Hansen, Shiwa ID

Permalink to story.

 

p51d007

Posts: 3,371   +3,035
Gee, it's almost like AT&T is in bed with Apple & Samsung, to "force" people to upgrade their device, to take advantage of the new frequencies. Well, that's not surprising because when you walk into an AT&T store, you have to run back out and double check the sign because you think you've either stepped into a Samsung or Apple store.


An updated list of compatible devices provided to CNET includes the Galaxy S22 family, the Galaxy Z Flip 4, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and the iPhone 14 family.
 

psycros

Posts: 4,458   +6,648
Welcome to the bad ol' days of cellular providers just being phone resellers. I had to go to T-Mo because literally no other network would support my cheap 4G phone released two months ago.
 

Theinsanegamer

Posts: 3,762   +6,575
Welcome to the bad ol' days of cellular providers just being phone resellers. I had to go to T-Mo because literally no other network would support my cheap 4G phone released two months ago.
It's gonna get even worse with eSIMs, and carriers requiring you to come into their store to speak with a rep to activate them (and pay another fee as well), because why on earth would they make it EASY?
Gee, it's almost like AT&T is in bed with Apple & Samsung, to "force" people to upgrade their device, to take advantage of the new frequencies. Well, that's not surprising because when you walk into an AT&T store, you have to run back out and double check the sign because you think you've either stepped into a Samsung or Apple store.


An updated list of compatible devices provided to CNET includes the Galaxy S22 family, the Galaxy Z Flip 4, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 and the iPhone 14 family.
I mean why would ATT ever give you something for free when they can force you to sign up for a new 2 year contract? This is ATT we're talking about here.
 

PEnnn

Posts: 946   +1,229
There was a time when AT&T meant something. They had good tech support and decent coverage.

These days, they're just another behemoth who wants to skrew their customers. Good thing my contract expires next month.
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 9,313   +8,489
Sounds like a case where the Fed should get directly involved ... a sort of "breach of promise" or similar charges would be appropriate or maybe the threat of turning them into a publicly owned utility .... yeah, just to cause them a few dozen sleepless nights .....
 

mrvco

Posts: 188   +206
Clearly AT&T made a mistake on whether these devices would be certified on this freq, but it would be helpful to understand why they aren't being certified by the FCC:

"... blame for the lack of support on the FCC and its handling of certifications."

I seriously doubt that licensing this slice of spectrum is part of some master plan by AT&T to coerce people into buying a new phone.
 
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hwertz

Posts: 198   +116
Not surprised. Really, there's paperwork (FCC re-testing is required I think?) required to add bands to an existing phone; the radios in some of the models may simply not tune properly to 3.45ghz; or they may tune there but not have any antennas in there that are close enough so it'd "work" but have very poor range. To be honest, I purchase devices STRICTLY on the current specifications, not on promises of what they'll support in the future; that way any additional functionality that comes down the road is a bonus, rather than their being a disappointment if that functionality never arrives.