T-Mobile to acquire more 700MHz, AWS and PCS spectrum in North Dakota

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T-Mobile is doing all it can to acquire more spectrum to expand its LTE network in order to compete with Verizon and AT&T on a coverage scale. In the most recent application, T-Mobile is seeking to acquire a mix of spectrum from BEK Communications Cooperative in North Dakota. In various counties across the state, T-Mo is looking to get its hands on 700MHz, 1700/2100 (AWS) and 1900 MHz (PCS) spectrum to bolster its network portfolio.

The transaction is “pending” and is available to view in detail on the FCC’s website. It includes links to the Competitors, Spectrum Aggregation and Transaction Description/Public Interest Statement documents as usual.

What I found particularly interesting in this filing is the post transaction spectrum breakdown. In the low-band 700MHz spectrum column, it shows four countiess as receiving 24MHz of the 700 spectrum. To my mind, these are the first markets to receive more the 12MHz. I could be wrong on that, but I don’t recall seeing any others with that large a block of the low-band airwaves. Not in one transaction.

A breakdown of current, and proposed spectrum is below:

Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 16.40.17

If recent approval rates are anything to go by, this transaction with BEK could be signed and sealed within then next 2-3 months.

Source: FCC

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  • Jay J. Blanco

    Thats great. I remember saying tmobile is constrained in the Dakotas and can only laucnch 2G or lte. Now this proves what I saying. If you don’t believe go look it up.

    I remember the commericals when tmobike firsr came to the Carolinas. Wonder how they would market expanding into the Dakotas

  • Chad Dalton

    Great News…I usually stay in Fargo, ND…multiple times throughout the summer! I’m hoping by this summer i can look forward to some LTE being available there.

    • Willie D

      Remember – just cause they bought it, doesn’t mean it will be able to be deployed rapidly. Your device will determine if you are able to connect, if it is rolled out. But Channel 51 is not vacated in many areas yet (85% of TMobile 700Mhz spectrum still cant be used due to Channel 51 not being vacant), that could take up to 3 years to free up. Most of all, the 700Mhz may have come as a package deal, where TMobile may have wanted to buy it, but got stuck with AWS and PCS with it, something they could deploy on but wont because the cost of towers could be greater than 700Mhz costs.

      • Nathan USA
      • kk888

        Spectrums from BEK are lower shm block b and block c. Even band 17 devices can use them.

        • Bryan Pizzuti

          No they can’t. It all depends on what band it’s being ADVERTISED as. If T-Mobile only advertises it as Band 12, then Band 17 devices can’t make use of it, no. And I don’t think T-Mobile has any plans on advertising as Band 17.

        • kk888

          Right, I forgot that. They need to MFBI it for b17 devices.

        • Bryan Pizzuti

          Even then, why MFBI it for Band 17 when most of their network is A block rather than B and C block? Doesn’t make a lot of sense for them to do, I’m not sure why they’d bother.

        • kk888

          So some legacy device and AT&T BYOD users can use it? Though it’ll make the things more complicated.

        • Bryan Pizzuti

          Again, they CAN’T use it, except in those areas where T-Mobile has deployed B and C block. Which so far seems that it will be be limited to the Dakotas. :)

          Besides which, AT&T is finally caving on the Band 12 thing, so AT&T BYOD users will actually have devices that support Band 12 sometime relatively soon.

        • Jay Holm

          MFBI?

        • kk888

          =MultiBand Frequency Indicator. For example, band 25 is the band 2 plus PCS block G, but band 25 devices cannot connect to band 2 towers if the tower doesn’t tell the devices that it is compabtible for band 25 device.

      • Justsomecommentor

        How do you know it is 85%?

  • Bryan Pizzuti

    Wait a sec, does this mean they’re branching out into the B block finally?

    • Fabian Cortez

      It’s seems so as we know the A block is 12 MHz wide.

  • Aurizen

    wow! T-mobile isn’t playing! they’re so serious in getting more low band spectrum. 2015 is gonna be a game changer for T-Mobile.

    • Jay Holm

      I wonder what the total pops is up to now for 700 A-Block holdings for T-Mobile?

  • Zander

    How bout some Iowa love? Pease? I wanna switch but I have convince my wife first.

    • NOYB

      U.S. Cellular owns that.

      • RiskyBidThis

        All except for Cedar Rapids and AT&T is buying that from Star Wireless.

      • Zander

        I’m with USCC and I want out.

  • Durandal_1707

    Any word on South Dakota? I’ve got family there and it would be nice to have native high-speed data coverage when I visit.

    • RiskyBidThis

      It’s not looking great, at least as far as 700A goes. Dryad Communications which is a rural broadband provider in SD agreed to acquire the 700A licenses covering most of the state from Long Lines Communications back in April. There is a still another license owned by James Valley Cooperative Telephone, but that license covers fewer than 100K people and I don’t imagine it would be very appealing to T-Mobile.

      The lower B and C blocks are owned by Viaero Wireless (which I’d think is unlikely to sell) or Kennebec Telephone/Kennebec 700. Out of those I think T-Mobile has the best chance at Kennebec’s licenses since I don’t think they’re being used but AT&T has been buying up smaller Lower B/C licenses lately so there is no guarantee there either.

      • Jay Holm

        Can’t T-Mobile make a roaming agreement with these companies?

        • RiskyBidThis

          Not if the licenses aren’t built out. I haven’t been able to find anything suggesting Kennebec has done so or has any intention of doing so and roaming with AT&T (who owns the remaining licenses in SD) isn’t going to be an option until MFBI is in place there so it can identify as band17/12.

      • superg05

        Send this information to John on Twitter

        • RiskyBidThis

          I guarantee you the executive team (at least Ray Neville) is entirely aware of who owns what and with the status of negotiations with any of those license holders is currently.

          They can’t actually do anything until after the AWS-3 auction ends, but I fully expect license acquistions for lower 700Mhz to continue for several months following the auction: at least until the licenses owned by Charter, Cavalier, Vulcan, and Continuum are acquired or sold to someone else.

        • Jay Holm

          Yeah! When the heck is this AWS-3 auction going to end already???

  • Nerd_Baller

    Just so everyone is aware about the upcoming devices, my understanding is that band 12 encompasses 700mhz Block A, B, &C whereas band 17 is only B & C. In other words band 12 supported devices are more future proof for other blocks not just A block

    • Fabian Cortez

      That’s correct. Plus AT&T will be switching to band 12 as well.

  • Jay Holm

    N. Dakota, oh wow, coverage in the middle of no where!!! Ha, tske that Verizon!!! T-Mobile will be a totally differet carrier in a couple of years.

  • Darwinski

    Great news!

  • Thor

    From what i’m understanding they are getting B and C licenses in the 700 mhz range. It doesn’t look like there are any 700 mhz a owned by that company. Smart move by Tmobile!!

  • 1ceTr0n

    Montana coverage now please