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AT&T, T-Mobile Argue Against FCC's Drive Test Program for Verifying Coverage Maps

Recently, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) revealed a program that would verify the coverage map accuracy of the US carriers. This will be required for each carrier, as revealed by the government agency. Unfortunately, two operators have spoken out against the program.

The carriers that have argued against this new FCC program are AT&T and T-Mobile. According to reports, the two have submitted filings that argue against the on-the-ground tests required.

AT&T is said to have argued against the program, stating that

"Requiring that all carriers conduct such nationwide drive tests, especially on a regular basis, is simply too costly especially at a time when investment in 5G deployment is a top national priority."

The carrier said that it would cost them around $45 million to perform a drive test 25% of the square kilometers of the 4G LTE Network it owns. Instead of spending that money for the drive test, they would rather spend it on deploying its 5G network.

T-Mobile gave a similar argument in its filing. It added that on-the-ground network testing would be "highly complex, time consuming, and expensive." The Un-carrier said that this money would be better spent on expanding its network in the rural areas of the country. 

"Drive tests and similar procedures are extremely expensive and burdensome to conduct, especially at the scale needed for a statistically significant sample of a nationwide network. A blanket requirement to perform regular on-the-ground testing will force providers to spend millions of dollars each year on tests, resources that would be better spent investing in our network and deployment in rural America." 

It can be remembered that the FCC accused Verizon, T-Mobile, and US Cellular of exaggerating their coverage maps. To make sure that the US carriers are not doing the same practice, they are hoping the carriers will comply with the Broadband DATA Act so that the accuracy of their coverage maps will be verified. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has expressed its support for this plan. But it still remains to be seen if carriers will actually be forced to perform the drive tests.

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