AWS-3 spectrum auction rules will suit small and large carriers, Tmo approves of “pro-competitive decision”

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Later on the this year, we’re about to see the largest auction of airwaves seen in the States since 2008. Fierce Wireless reports that the FCC is moving ahead with planned rules to make them as fair as possible, making airwaves “available in in a mix of spectrum block and geographic license area sizes to meet the needs of large and small wireless providers.” The AWS-3 spectrum includes 1695-1710 MHz, 1755-1780 MHz, and 2155-2180 MHz bands and must be auctioned by February next year.

T-Mobile responded fairly positively to the news:

“T-Mobile lauds the decision of the FCC today to modify the proposed AWS-3 band plan to create more 5×5 MHz spectrum blocks. This pro-competitive decision will provide carriers of all sizes an opportunity to win this valuable spectrum.”

As well as setting ground rules on licenses, and geographical locations, the FCC also ruled that AWS-3 and AWS-1 spectrum (1710-1755 MHz and 2110-2155 MHz) be inter-operable.

As it stands, there are a number of technical issues and details to finalize before the auction can take place.

For a full report, head on over to FierceWireless.

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  • Dion Mac

    Not being funny, but how does that stop the big boys from bidding all of the small blocks?

    • S. Ali

      Because it would be harder for ATT/Verizon to be the highest bidder (without overbidding). The smaller carriers will put in higher bids in localized regions for small blocks because that is all they need. The big carriers will make blanket bids nationwide because they need coverage. This allows the smaller carriers a better chance at getting spectrum in the regions they serve, while the larger carriers still get nationwide spectrum. The big guys have plenty of spectrum (especially ATT), its tower density/spacing that is the problem.

  • JB

    Since no one else has done it yet:

    [insert comment about removing corporate discounts here]

    :-P

    • Kidney_Thief

      I was about to make a similar joke, but you beat me to it.

    • Stone Cold

      They have reversed course already

  • Fabian Cortez

    This is good news.

    Hopefully this is a sign of how the 600MHz auction might play out.

    Ironically, Verizon is on board with T-Mobile’s proposed 600MHz auction plan… except for the proposed spectrum caps. :massiveeyeroll

  • Baz

    Could someone please explain to me how this spectrum apportionment works. What is the difference between 5×5 and 10×10? What are “spectrum blocks”? What does 5×5 even mean?

    Thanks!

    • Kidney_Thief

      Basically, it’s like this. There’s a downlink and an uplink portion of the spectrum. The uplink is on the 1700 MHz portion, and the downlink is on the 2100 MHz portion. Most of the time, this spectrum is sold as paired spectrum, which means that 1755-1760 will also be sold with 2155-2160. That’s the 5×5, or more correctly 5+5 that you’re talking about.

      • Baz

        Gotcha! That clears it up. Thanks!

        I wonder how it works out with the 600 or 700 MHz blocks? Similarly as you described with the 1700 and 2100 MHz? I mean, do the pairings happen within the say 700 MHz range for the down and uplinks?

        • Kidney_Thief

          It works the same way, but just as you said within the 600 MHz and 700 MHz ranges.

          For example, the 700 MHz A block pairs 698-704 MHz and 728-734 MHz, the B block 704-710 MHz and 734-740 MHz, and so on.

      • TMOTECH

        So close. 17 is down and 21 is up.

        • Kidney_Thief

          “We will license the AWS-3 spectrum in two sub-bands. We will pair the 2155-2180 MHz band for downlink/base station operations with the 1755-1780 MHz band for uplink/mobile operations.”

          Source: http://www [dot] fcc [dot] gov/document/fcc-sets-stage-auction-65-mhz-spectrum-mobile-broadband-0

          Similarly, 1710-1755 MHz is used for uplink and 2110-2155 MHz for the downlink.

    • Eric

      An analogy: A slice of cake that is small (5+5) is relatively cheap, but barely anyone can eat it up before it’s gone. The larger the slice, the more to eat, but also more expensive.

      So the more MHz, the better for capacity and speed. More also the more cost.

  • Aurizen

    wait, isn’t the spectrum too high for what T-mobile needs? we need 700 Mhz… when is that auction?

    • taron19119

      This is the 600 auction

      • Aurizen

        but it says “The AWS-3 spectrum includes 1695-1710 MHz, 1755-1780 MHz, and 2155-2180 MHz bands and must be auctioned by February next year.” does this mean the 700 is included?

        • taron19119

          The 700 auction happen in 07

        • Aurizen

          so what about the spectrum AT&T uses? A-block 700 MHz Doesn’t benefit me at all. Tmobile wont get any more low band spectrum? like at&t has thats compatible with a lot of phones? I want my 30+mbps inside not outside.

        • Eric

          AT&T uses B+C 700 MHz LTE, but they do have some A blocks to sell.

        • Aurizen

          Right, I was wondering if T-Mobile would ever get those B and C 700 MHz? I have an iphone 5 and the A block doesn’t support my phone.

        • Kidney_Thief

          They only way they would get it is if they bought it from somebody that already has it.

        • Aurizen

          I guess that doesn’t look likely.

        • Eric

          I don’t think T-Mobile will get any because AT&T doesn’t want to sell their B+C blocks. If they do, then T-Mobile could buy some and support existing phones with 700 MHz support.

        • Jay Holm

          I doubt their willing to sell it!

        • taron19119

          T-mobile has a-block 700 spectrum and the 600 spectrum is better and will give you the same type of coverage that the 700 spectrum give you

        • Baz

          There will not be a 700 auction. It already happened in 2007. TMo just bought the A-block 700 MHz spectrum from Verizon in January for 3 billion dollars, and will implement it this year and next. The deal was already approved a month ago by the FCC.

        • NOYB

          No, it was approved by the justice department a month ago. The FCC has yet to approve.

        • Jay Holm

          I never read anywhere (including here) that the FCC has already approved it, I know the DOJ has.

      • Alex Zapata

        Incorrect.

        • taron19119

          What’s incorrect

        • Alex Zapata

          You stated that this was about the 600 auction, it’s not. AWS-3 is still in the 1700/2100MHz range. (Cam posted the actual frequencies in question above)

        • taron19119

          Your wrong

        • randomnerd_number38

          Lol, no he’s not. The 600 MHz spectrum is not mentioned in this article. That auction isn’t happening until mid-next year. AWS is not “the 600 spectrum”

        • taron19119

          -www.fiercetelecom.c-om/tags/aws-3

        • Alex Zapata

          Just checked your source out, and every article there lists the same frequencies that Cam listed.

          From one of the articles:

          “The FCC this week voted on rules to auction the 1695-1710 MHz, 1755-1780 MHz, and 2155-2180 MHz bands, collectively known as AWS-3. The auction will be the most consequential since the 2008 auction of 700 MHz spectrum.”

        • taron19119

          Yeah but collectively it is known as the 600 spectrum

        • Alex Zapata

          Uh huh…….

    • Alex Zapata

      It’s not “too high” as it were, but I agree that TMO needs some sub-1GHz spectrum to really compete. I won’t complain about extra AWS though :-)

      • Aurizen

        too high as in wont penetrate building or underground. Lower spectrum is needed for T-mobile, not so much as high spectrum. whats where people pain points are… right?

        • Alex Zapata

          I think I worded that a little weird. What I was getting at was more that TMO could definitely benefit from some of this extra spectrum, but as someone who suffers from it daily, building penetration is a big issue. I have a feeling that will be taken care of with the 600MHz auction though.

        • Aurizen

          oh really?! when is that auction? This year I hope.

        • Kidney_Thief

          First half of next year at the earliest.

        • Aurizen

          Thats gonna take forever to implement! I was hoping for this year into next :(

        • Kidney_Thief

          It’s a combination of the carriers bickering and broadcasters taking forever to vacate the spectrum that have caused the auction to be delayed.

        • Alex Zapata

          Unfortunately, it looks like next year at the earliest :’(

  • sushimane

    it would be nice if the fcc would serve the smaller carrier for first dibs just for the fact they have less cash flow then the big carriers. tmobile would buy as much spectrum as they can and eventually att and verizon would buy the rest of the 600mhz. lol

  • mingkee

    T-Mobile will be in perfect position on these 30MHz AWS-3 (xx55-xx80) spectrum auction which will further increase the capacity for both HSPA and LTE. However, T-Mobile also needs sub-1GHz spectrum for reception.

  • Derek Mounce

    Personally in MY opinion I think the FCC should have left it the way it was and let AT&T and Verizon gobble it all up like they did the 700 mhz spectrum then when it comes up for the 600Mhz make it so that Verizon and AT&T aren’t allowed to compete in the auction at all so the smaller carriers could gobble up all the 600Mhz

    If it’s true that there are 100 carriers that could compete using Sprints roaming hub thing then that would make either 102 or 104 carriers total (I am not sure if Sprint and T-Mo is included in the 100 or not) in which case the govt/fcc whoever could make money and they don’t need the 1700 and 2100 cause Sprint has 800/1900/2500

    Then there is the spectrum that T-Mo has in the 1700/2100 already plus the 700a spectrum they are getting from Verizon add in the 600 for this those alone would be 600/700/800/1700/1900/2100/2500 in some markets and it would be about the same coverage as Verizon and AT&T maybe even ALOT faster and cheaper lol

  • Alex Zapata

    Honestly, I’m just happy to hear about the interoperability.