Expanding coverage and upgrading networks is often a struggle for carriers, especially the smaller ones. In many cases, the hold up isn’t necessarily the lack of towers/masts, but rather a case of not having enough spectrum licenses to to cover all the areas they want. To solve that, carriers like T-Mobile have to make deals with other spectrum owners to try and get the airwaves they need. It’s a pretty common occurrence in the battle to cover more people.
We saw that earlier in the year when T-Mo secured some much-needed A-block spectrum from Verizon. Today, it’s been revealed that the company is making a deal with AT&T which will benefit both network providers.
An FCC filing reveals T-Mobile are proposing a swap of PCS and AWS spectrum over 10 states. Much of the spectrum going to T-Mo’s way is spectrum acquired by Big Blue when it acquired Leap Wireless earlier this year. When America’s #2 carrier made that deal it was forced to agree that it would divest some of Leap’s spectrum in 12 markets, and that’s what this proposed swap with T-Mobile would do.
A post by 50atomic in the Reddit thread details the spectrum swapping hands in specific markets (for those interested). It would lead to T-Mobile being able to switch on wideband LTE in a number of areas:
AWS highlights from AT&T-Leap divestitures:
- CMA101 Beaumont-Port Arthur, TX (path to 15 MHz FDD LTE on AWS E+F)
- CMA109 Spokane, WA (path to 20 MHz FDD LTE on AWS D+E+F)
- CMA112 Corpus Christi, TX (path to 20 MHz FDD LTE on AWS D+E+F)
- CMA128 McAllen-Edinburg-Mission, TX (path to 15 MHz FDD LTE on AWS E+F)
- CMA162 Brownsville-Harlingen, TX (path to 15 MHz FDD LTE on AWS E+F)
- CMA432 Kansas 5 – Brown [some counties] (path to 15 MHz FDD LTE on AWS C+D+E)
- CMA340 California 5 – San Luis Obispo (path to 20 MHz FDD LTE on AWS D+E+F)
- CMA661 Texas 10 – Navarro (path to 15 MHz FDD LTE on AWS E+F)
- CMA340 California 5 – San Luis Obispo (upgrade from 15 to 20 MHz of PCS)
- I won’t detail the rest of the PCS spectrum swaps, but overall T-Mobile gave up PCS where they had more than 30 MHz (to potentially run DC-HSPA+ and GSM) except in parts of Lousiana where they dropped to 20 MHz PCS (they can still run DC-HSPA+ and GSM using NSN narrow WCDMA)
CMA 448 Kentucky 6 – Madison (reduced from 20 to 15 MHz FDD LTE on AWS E+F)
The FCC filing doesn’t contain any information on cash swapping hands. So we don’t know who’s paying how much for what, or if there’s a straight swap going on. As long as it helps T-Mo continue its impressive LTE expansion and improvement, I’m happy.
You can read the full FCC filing here.