Wireless timeline: 2013 (and a bit) in the world of spectrum

Here's a brief look back at the very busy past year or so on the wireless spectrum scene in the United States:

January 9, 2013 FCC will move to give more spectrum to Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi users will share that spectrum with the U.S. Department of Defense and other government agencies, U.S. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski announced at International CES in Las Vegas. The spectrum will be in the 5GHz band, one of the two bands where Wi-Fi is already used.

January 22 AT&T spectrum grab: buying Alltel for $780 million

The Alltel CDMA network covers approximately 4.6 million people in primarily rural areas across Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, North Carolina, Ohio and South Carolina. The acquisition includes spectrum in the 700 MHz, 850 MHz and 1900 MHz bands, which AT&T says complements its network and will provide customers who roam in these areas improved 3G wireless access.

+ ALSO ON NETWORK WORLD Crowded U.S. airwaves desperately in search of breathing room +

January 25 AT&T to buy Verizon spectrum for $1.9 billion

AT&T paid cash and traded AWS (advanced wireless services) spectrum for the B block of the 700MHz spectrum. Verizon will gain AWS spectrum licenses in several markets, including Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Portland, Oregon, AT&T said in a press release.

March 4 Google gets FCC approval to hunt through wireless spectrum for whitespace

A Google project designed to collect information on available wireless spectrum into a central database received an FCC go-ahead to begin a public trial, as the company works to identify gaps between TV bands.

June 14 Obama directs agencies to move toward sharing spectrum

President Obama created a spectrum policy team to move agencies toward sharing spectrum, and he directed the U.S. National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to publish a report detailing agency usage of spectrum that could be shared with commercial users.

July 30 Sprint promises wide rollout and device support for ex-Clearwire spectrum

The company gave an update on progress in its Network Vision upgrade project during a conference call to discuss second-quarter financial results, according to a transcript provided by Seeking Alpha. Earlier in the month, the fourth-largest U.S. mobile operator got a shot in the arm with its $21.6 billion acquisition by SoftBank and also bought out former partner Clearwire.

August 23 Amazon tests new Wi-Fi network spectrum

The extension, if approved by the FCC, would create a new, uncluttered, high performance Wi-Fi channel in upper reaches of the 2.4-GHz band, a channel Globalstar apparently intends as the basis of a managed service with cellular-like quality and roaming.

December 6 FCC chairman aims for TV spectrum auction in mid-2015

It's important to release more spectrum for new, flexible uses, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler wrote in a blog post. The FCC will balance demands for more commercial spectrum with the time the agency needs to run a successful auction, he said. The so-called incentive auction will involve a complicated process in which the FCC will auction off spectrum voluntarily turned over by TV stations in exchange for a cut of the winning bid.

January 7, 2014 Network chief likes AT&T's spectrum holdings - as the carrier buys more

John Donovan, senior executive vice president of AT&T technology and network operations, said at the Citi 2014 Internet, Media & Telecommunications Conference taking place near International CES in Las Vegas that his company had enough frequencies for now.

January 8, 2014 More unlicensed spectrum could be on the horizon, FCC chairman says

Major wireless technologies such as Wi-Fi and Bluetooth currently operate in such spaces -- blocks of the radio spectrum that are open to use by any technology and do not require formal FCC licensing -- but some of those spaces are now crowded with signals.

Email Jon Gold at jgold@nww.com and follow him on Twitter at @NWWJonGold.

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