Border Wars: Mexican Carrier’s Signal Interferes with Verizon’s Spectrum

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Verizon customers from California to Texas are experiencing interference from a carrier across the border in Mexico that’s tapping into the same 700 MHz band, reported the San Diego Union-Tribune. Since August, Verizon customers filed complaints regarding dropped calls and lost, or weak broadband connections after Altán Redes turned on its wholesale wireless network in northern Mexico.

 The issue has caught the attention of the FCC, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), and other government officials on both sides of the border, per the Union-Tribune

Working with the Commission, Verizon is trying to minimize the impact to customers close to the border.

According to Altán, it’s operating in strict compliance with the wireless communications protocols in force between Mexico and the United States. Per Altán, the interference “is caused by the activity of the United States’ mobile carriers with service in the 700 megahertz band spectrum interfering on the Mexican side,” not the other way around.

In August, Cruz wrote a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai regarding the loss of service in El Paso as Altán tested its network. Affected areas included a University Medical Center, where more than 10 people injured at a mass shooting were being treated, according to the Union-Tribune.

 In his response, Pai wrote that the Commission had been working with top government officials in Mexico to develop a protocol that would enable Altán to operate without obstructing the U.S. carriers in the 700 MHz band. Due to these ongoing discussions, Pai said he was surprised to learn that Altán had, “unilaterally decided to turn on its network at a time and in a manner that would directly and foreseeably cause harmful interference to U.S. cellular carriers and their customers who rely on them on a daily basis.”

 At this time, Verizon said it couldn’t provide a timeline for a solution. “We certainly understand the frustration some of our customers have experienced,” a Verizon spokesperson told the Union-Tribune. “Please know our teams are working every possible angle to address this issue. Talks continue with the highest levels of the United States government, and our network team is making regular adjustments to the network to help mitigate the issue in the interim.”

November 14, 2019

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