FCC grants T-Mobile, Verizon and AT&T spectrum from AWS-3 auction

antenna

Those of you following spectrum acquisitions and auctions will know that, towards the end of 2014, T-Mobile and a bunch of other companies took part in an AWS-3 spectrum auction. Although T-Mo was by no means the biggest of the bidders, it did secure a healthy amount of the airwaves to help strengthen its network. And, it’s been discovered today, that it is one of the first to be granted its spectrum by the FCC.

Of all the 31 bidders, 11 of them have now been granted licenses. Among those were T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon as well as Central Texas Telephone Investments, FTC Management Group, Gila River Telecommunications, Ligtel Communications, Michigan Wireless, Nsight Spectrum, Pioneer Telephone Cooperative and the Triangle Communication System.

It doesn’t take a math genius to figure out that far more are still waiting for their licenses to be approved than have had them granted so far. But perhaps the interesting story is who those are. Among them is Dish, a company which was surprisingly one of the biggest bidders during the winter auction. There are also concerns – from carriers – that some of the bidding was coordinated in an unfair manner to secure discounts for companies bidding as “designated entity partners”. As reported by Fierce Wireless:

“Northstar Wireless and SNR Wireless made $13.3 billion in gross provisional winning bids, but are seeking to pay only around $10 billion because they filed their applications as designated entities to get the FCC’s 25 percent discount for designated entities and small businesses. That move has drawn strong opposition from Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile, as well as lawmakers and Republican FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai. They claim Dish and its designated entity partners manipulated the rules of the auction and coordinated their bidding strategy.”

Turning our attention back to T-Mobile, what this means for you is that the carrier now has more 1700/2100 spectrum to roll out, although AWS-3 frequency issues mean it won’t be added to the existing band 4 LTE. The spectrum covers a number of areas in North and South Carolina, Ohio, Florida, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Arizona, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, West Virginia, North Dakota, Texas, Arkansas, Los Angeles, Nebraska, Missouri, South Dakota, Montana, New Mexico, Colorado, New York and Oklahoma. In fact, for a full list of markets covered by the spectrum, head on over to this FCC PDF attachment to the public notice.

With this spectrum now secured, and the 700MHz and 1900MHz LTE networks being deployed, T-Mo’s network is going to get much stronger. Not just wider reaching, but faster and more reliable too.

EDIT – Previously assumed the AWS-3 frequencies matched the 1700/2100 network in use. Apparently, it doesn’t. I’ve changed the post to reflect that. 3GPP is currently working on a new band to comply with all of the FCC’s requirements.

Source: FCC
Via: Fierce Wireless

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  • Raiterio Patterson

    I hope this means wideband LTE is coming to NC. I need it bad

    • maximus1901

      No it’s not. Cam is dead wrong: this is NOT band 4 spectrum. You’ll need a new device. There’s not even a band defined yet for aws3.
      Very sloppy cam.

      • Cam Bunton

        It’s unpaired 1700 and 2100 spectrum. Why would it not be band 4?

        • maximus1901

          1) it’s most certainly paired.
          2) because band 4 doesn’t cover aws3 frequencies.

        • Cam Bunton

          So T-Mo’s going to roll out 1700/2100 spectrum in a different band?

        • maximus1901

          I don’t know if their current tower antennas can do aws3.
          Technically it’s a new band but it would be a superset of band 4 and aws3.
          Once aws3 devices launch, they probably have the new superset band.
          This is similar to b12/b17. B12 covers more frequencies and, after att updates its network this year, all b12 devices will be able to connect to “b17 towers”

        • Cam Bunton

          Cool, thanks. Chatted with Neal briefly too. I’ve updated the post to show that information.

        • Wondering

          What does this mean for existing phones like the Note 4?

        • Kidney_Thief

          They’ll see no benefit from this.

        • maximus1901

          Absolutely nothing.

        • maximus1901

          No phones can access awa3 freqs today and probably not until 2016

        • MKashi

          UL 1695-1710 MHz isn’t paired, 1755-1780 MHz, 2155-2180 MHz DL is.

        • maximus1901

          Ask neal if you don’t believe me.

        • Cam Bunton

          Will do.

    • KingCobra

      We won’t see this spectrum in use until late 2016 at the earliest plus you will need a new phone. Not sure they have enough spectrum to deploy wideband in Charlotte as they didn’t win any licenses here in the auction. They got some in Greensboro/Winston-Salem, Fayetteville, Raleigh/Durham, and Greenville though.

      • Raiterio Patterson

        Coulda swear I saw a map of where they purchased AWS-3 spectrum in NC…can’t remember. Maybe Reddit? Anyways that sucks if at least Mecklenburg county doesn’t get something.

  • MKashi

    Hmm… so if AT&T and VzW come for the 2016 600 Mhz auction with their own Designated Entity Partners, they will be eligible to bid on the reserved portions too. Seems like T-mobile might be in trouble if this happens.

  • Jay J. Blanco

    Finally more bandwith for Columbia, SC been waiting for a while i been complaining about bandwith because AWS HSPA is still up and running while HSPA 1900mhz is deployed here also. Speeds have dropped significabtly in the last 2 years

  • 1ceTr0n

    Better building penetration sooner rather then later damnit….

    • Cam Bunton

      Yeah, this won’t help with that specifically. It’s similar frequencies to the existing 1700/2100 which isn’t particularly wonderful at getting in to buildings.

    • Black TheBadGuy

      Say it again. That’s my biggest gripe,

  • Joe

    I hate how it’s never a good time to upgrade to a new phone. It’s like you will always be behind no matter what. But I had to get the s6 cuz I still was using the s2 which was terrible.

    • neospade44

      Those S2 batteries were crap!

      • Joe

        Lol yeah making it from 8:00-12:00 was amazing.

    • steveb944

      Just get on Jump! and you don’t have to worry about being on the bleeding edge. Since you have the S6 I expect MAYBE the 7 to support the bands, and definitely the 7.

      Personally I buy a new device every 6 months to a year full price, tho I hope PhoneBloks or the Yota will end that for me.

      • Joe

        Well jump costs an extra $10 a month so yeah i’m not about to do that and I tend to keep my phone for 3+ years.

        • steveb944

          Well in that case, you may have jumped the gun on the upgrade as the Note tends to have better stuff. But since you’re upgrading every 3 years and not every few months it’s expected to be behind the curve nonetheless.

          Technology is moving too quick, it’s best to just upgrade when it’s right for you financially/logistically and ignore all the rumours and minor updates or else you’ll go crazy.

        • Mike Palomba

          Get score. Its only $5 per month and gets you pretty good discounts on all phones after 12 months

    • YABD

      I agree with you.

  • Mathew Kessel

    for clarification, band 4 (current aws) is a subset of band 10 (aws 3).
    this is similar to how band 17 (att) is a subset of band 12 (tmo/regional).
    For whatever reasons nefarious or not, the bands were set up this way.
    this means: you will most definitely need a new phone to utilise aws3, aws3 can be used for wideband lte (but only on BAND 10!!!) if the frequencies blocks line up. Finally, as it is actually a higher frequency than band 4, aws3 will have no benefit as far as penetration is concerned… but don’t get too excited, I doubt the spectrum will be deployed in the forseeable future

  • iMotoXperiaGalaxy

    Until it fixes better building penetration in high rise buildings and I can surf in the subway (no pun intended)….. I could care less how much spectrum Legere gets….

    • taxandspend

      Which subway? It works in Boston. None of the carriers used to work there.

      • iMotoXperiaGalaxy

        Chicago. Not going through the tunnels for me.

        • Bradley Karas

          T mobile, Verizon and AT&T have already announced they will be adding small sites in Chicago subway. Look on this site

      • nycplayboy78

        NYC and DC those two in particular because Big Z has the contracts for cellular service in the nation’s two largest subway systems…SIGH….

        • heythere

          tmobile has service in certain NYC stations in the subway (just like the other carriers)…nyc is currently building out cell sites throughout all their stations. There is talk that after the subway stations are all wired up they will work on getting it working in the tunnels.

      • socalrailroader

        How is T Mobile on the L.A. and Bay Area subways?

  • JaswinderSinghJammu

    ATT and Verizon were practically given the 700 MHz spectrum for next to nothing hence they have better network. Sprint and T Mobile are late to the party but getting there slowly but surely.

    • superg05

      they where give 800mhz for free

  • UMA_Fan

    Even though no wireless operator owns any 600mhz devices yet what’s stopping carriers from asking OEMs to add it to their phones already?

    • eAbyss

      They’ll probably be obsolete by the time it’s deployed.

    • Kidney_Thief

      The fact that there’s no ratified band plan may have something to do with it.

  • RiskyBidThis

    If Tmonews wants to be my buddy you could make a map of the spectrum they won that shows the geographical layout AND spectrum depth. There are a few maps out there but none of them include the spectrum depth of their winnings (e.g. darker for 10MHz than 5MHz).

  • vinnyjr

    T-Mobile is on a freaken role. My coverage is just sick, keeps getting stronger and faster. It’s scary as hell. Thank You T-Mobile, Thank You John Legere.

    • socalrailroader

      If it’s sick, it needs a doctor.

      • Arbiterofallthatslame

        that was lame

  • FILA

    I like how Los Angeles is a state

    • NuShrike

      Yup check again. T-Mobile has NO NEW Los Angeles coverage. You’ve mistaken LA from Louisiana.

      • MKashi

        Its written as Los Angeles and not abbreviated as LA

        • oryan_dunn

          LOL, flew over everyone….
          Check the article….

        • socalrailroader

          The proper abbreviation for Los Angeles is L.A.

    • NuShrike

      Yup check again. T-Mobile has NO new Los Angeles coverage. You’ve mistaken LA from Louisiana.

  • itguy08

    Need more 700A!!! Cough CAVALIER cough.

    • superg05

      cough twitter @JohnLegere

  • superg05

    wow that was fast

  • Allen Enriquez

    About time it took long enough

    • superg05

      it usually takes a whole year so actually it was extremely fast

  • William Burr Winans

    Question can you combine AWS 1 and 3 to make Wideband LTE or is it separate?

  • Rob

    T-Mobile is going to be the new Sprint with all these different types of spectrum they have. It’s not exactly a good thing.

    Now that T-Mobile has launched the band 12 in Denver, everything is a mess. My phone now switches between 4 and 12 constantly in my apartment. Speed tests have revealed that HSPA has the fastest average downstream for me now, coming in around 20Mbps while band 12 is 6 on average and band 4 is 12. Of course since it switches bands so much the data graphs I’ve done spike and flatline while HSPA is relatively consistent.

    That’s not even the best part though. Even with the 700 band, my phone is still unusable in the bathroom and now the kitchen is a dead zone where it got band 4 just fine previously. Upstream speeds are a mess no matter which network the phone connects to now.

    Hopefully this settles down but it has been going on for a good week now so I’m betting I’m going to be stuck with poor data coverage in the house. In my case the situation is worse now than it was before.

    • Levinite

      I agree. I’ve not done the band-by-band comparisons you have, but I can tell you that my LTE experience has steadily diminished since it originally rolled out here in the Washington D.C. metro area. I’ve getting less than half of the speed that I used to. It seems more like a complete mishmash than it does a coherent/reliable network, these days.

      • Rob

        It really is quite bad. I was hoping it was isolated but it seems that T-Mobile has a lot of work to do to get things running right… I’m tempted to downgrade my Nexus 6 radio back to the stock that doesn’t have band 12 enabled.

        • kawkaw

          errr u don’t have to do that…just force your phone to stay on hspa. There probably is a way to force it to stay on a specific LTE band too. Just do a web search im sure it will pop up.

          Too bad tmobile’s wifi calling isn’t activated on the n6 yet. That would probably alleviate your problem.

    • Ryanide

      Greetings from your neighbours to the south in Colorado Springs.
      When we became the 4th city T-Mobile opened that band to, it was a bit messy at first too.
      But now, my 80mbps downloads reach my bedroom, kitchen, etc. And works in Walmarts too.
      Hopefully your area will improve as well.

      • Rob

        80Mbps? Is that even possible on Band 12? Heck I’ve never even seen 30Mbps on Band 4, much less 80 but I thought the Band 12 spectrum couldn’t do more than 40? Unless T-Mobile grabbed 10MHz down there then it would make sense if you’re the only one on it. I know you guys went without LTE for quite a while though so good to hear it is working so well.

        • chrssstp9

          Yes, it’s possible.

        • TMOTECH

          They probably have Carrier Aggregation turned on and his handset is using 12 and 4 at the same time.

        • Rob

          What phone offers aggregation of 12 and 4? There isn’t one that I’m aware of.

        • slybacon

          I have an iPhone 6 (no band 12, but 4 and 2 yes) and I get over 100mbps near Seattle and Bellevue in the evening hours, out to dinner, etc. (peak times). I’m not too worried about band 12 up here, although Tmo did purchase it from Vulcan, probably for the more rural areas.

        • Rob

          Seattle and Bellevue are wideband cities so that’s no surprise. Colorado Springs is severely spectrum starved and Denver has enough spectrum for wideband but it’s not contiguous so it can’t currently be used for wideband.

    • William Burr Winans

      Which phone do you have?
      Do you have a cell-fi signal booaster?

      • Rob

        Nexus 6 running 5.1 – no signal booster, we have always had good coverage in the house except for the two bathrooms.

        • William Burr Winans

          Man let me tell you I think you should go get the Signal Booster cuz one of my issues at home was you couldn’t get a bar in the basement now I get 3 or 4 bars in the basement.
          I think if you get the booster you can have service in the 2 bathrooms. I go for it man!

        • Rob

          I might look into it. I have to call T-Mobile about getting the loyalty discount back anyway.

        • TMOTECH

          It sounds like there may be an issue with the site that serves your home. When you call let them know it used to be good and now isn’t. They should open a service ticket. It may take a while but should get to the technician eventually.

        • Rob

          Well I noticed yesterday afternoon they took the band 12 offline here so they’re definitely still working on it.

        • Clifton K. Morris

          There’s someone selling a zBoost ZB545M Cell Phone Signal Booster on Denver Craigslist. Ive used one of these before and it works much better than the repeaters and cellspots T-Mobile uses. I swear by it.

    • Stone Cold

      What area are you in? I work in Downtown and live near the Denver/Glendale border have not had any problems other than texts not going through while they were doing tower work last week.

      • Terry

        That texting issue was a real pain in the butt. I am so glad that it has stopped for the most part, but now I am still getting duplicate texts here in Denver. On a side note, you are very close to me. I am in that Denver/Glendale area as well.

      • Rob

        I’m downtown by the capitol. 11th and Broadway basically.

        • Stone Cold

          May still be issues with the upgrades

        • Rob

          It wouldn’t surprise me but in the meantime I think I’ll downgrade my radio. I complained about the Nexus 6 not launching with band 12 out of the box but maybe that can be a good thing after all. That’s provided the old radio works with 5.1 though.

  • kev2684

    cam, LA on state terms is Louisiana, not Los Angeles. Los Angeles (aka LA) is a city in California (CA). that area was granted to AT&T.

    • socalrailroader

      Los Angeles should also be abbreviated as L.A., not LA.

      • kev2684

        true, but ain’t nobody got time fo’ dat. :D

  • Stone Cold

    Woo hoo

    • Terry

      Just too bad, we did not get any here in Denver.

      • Stone Cold

        They haven’t finished the rollout yet here. They have been updated and working on the towers. Just had to call last week. So it is coming.

      • Clifton K. Morris

        They entered into an agreement to acquire 700MHz spectrum swap about a year ago.

        Trouble is in order to use the new airwaves, a customer has to upgrade their handset.

  • Bordelais

    I wished T-Mobile would buy Continuum’s 700 licenses.

    What are they waiting for?

    Oh, and unrelated, Cam how is the tmonews forum coming along?

    • jay_max

      You presume Continuum is willing to sell.

      • Joe

        I hope that they all (Cavalier License Group, LLC , Continuum, and AB License Co LLC ) are willing to sell. The big problem would be how much do they want cuz t-mobile does not have money to blow. They will probably pay more than what it is valued at but not to much more.

        • Bordelais

          Does Cavelier, Continuum, or AB even use the licenses or are they just sitting on them for an opportunity to sell at a high profit?

        • Joe

          Probably sitting on them waiting to sell at a high price which as t-mobile said in one of their earnings calls they will not over pay for spectrum. Which I have to side with them on that cuz even tho they need the low band spectrum there tight on cash.

  • Raiterio Patterson

    Does Cavalier License Group own 700MHz A-Block spectrum in North Carolina? I forget.

  • JB45

    More spectrum for Cincinnati

  • Bobby Wright

    :-D

  • Rocky

    More Government stealing money for something that isn’t theirs and they didn’t create. They rolled in one day and yelled, “Dibbs”. Same to happen soon for the internet.