reply to pandora
Re: Is there an engineer who understands this stuff? I'm not an engineer, but I understand this stuff. Here's basically what it boils down to:
1) Verizon currently owns more low-band spectrum than any other national carrier. This puts them in a very favorable position, and at the moment there is no feasible way for them to run out of spectrum, and the competitive advantage of their 700/800 MHz holdings providing far superior range than competitors' AWS/PCS holdings making them virtually untouchable. Then only other carrier to hold as much low-band spectrum is AT&T.
2) Any carrier can supplement their capacity by detuning existing cell sites and putting up new cells (more sites, same coverage area). For example, let's say AT&T (or Verizon, or whoever) serves Manhattan, NYC as well as Kenosha, Wisconsin. Let's assume both areas are using CLR 800MHz spectrum. How can you serve an area with millions of people and one with just tens of thousands with the same amount of spectrum? Smaller cells. AT&T could do this as well, but they would rather cry about spectrum, too.
3) Adding more cells costs money, much more than buying new spectrum and squatting on it until you need it. Verizon is in the tricky position of balancing the fact that they are basically untouchable in the spectrum department, yet still don't want to have to spend more money than they have to. They have always run their cell spacing far, far wider than any other carrier due to the inherent qualities of CDMA making it possible to do so, and don't want to start running a more dense network now.
4) AT&T already has a pretty dense network, and doesn't want to have to spend more money making it any denser, so they too want more spectrum. That's what the T-Mobile buy was about. So basically, it's a tradeoff of opportunity cost. Any carrier can serve their customers well by running a super-dense network in congested areas. It's always cheaper to add channels than whole new sites, detuning old ones and turning up new ones. It's not free.
The questions which no one except telco financial insiders can answer is whether they will really go bankrupt if they have to build dense networks, or if they are just greedy telco suits who want bigger bonuses and golden parachutes. Knowing standard telco operating procedure, I think we all know the answer to that question.
Another problem with making cell sites denser is what do you do when municipalities and residents put up a fit about putting up a new tower?
Then they won't get cell service because tx power at more distant towers will need to come down.
Exactly. If you live in an area where there are a bunch of whining luddites, then I recommend you move. I have absolutely no sympathy for the NIMBYs.
In fact, I as a cell carrier, I would make sure that my customer data system had huge red flags and error messages pop up when customers who lived in the NIMBY areas called in. It would list the exact name of the complainants or local boards that have whined about/blocked additional cell sites from going up.
The CSRs would be instructed to tell any customer who calls in for a capacity-related issue to please contact their local utility board or, barring that, give the exact names of those complaining so that their issues can be addressed.
Your company's counsel would probably advise you not to go quite so far as to give out names. Though they're public record, some CSR would get carried away in how they presented the information, and the Luddites would publicly accuse your company of intimidation.