AT&T to compete with T-Mobile bid on Verizon’s A block spectrum?


We heard a while back that T-Mobile is considering a bid for Verizon’s A block spectrum. VZW is open to sell, but only for the right price, expected to be around the $3 billion mark. This particular block of spectrum is certainly sought after since it’s ideal for covering long distances and for getting in to buildings. This would not only require fewer masts for optimal coverage, but also ensure that signal isn’t lost once you go indoors.

According to a report on WSJ late yesterday evening, AT&T is looking to compete with T-Mobile in a bid for Verizon’s available spectrum, although all three carriers refused to comment on any possible deal being done.

T-Mobile is said to be very keen on acquiring the lower frequency spectrum, since its network runs almost entirely on higher frequencies. And, as we all know, T-Mobile needs to expand quickly and effectively if it is to continue the momentum gained over the past 12 months. The “A block” spectrum is in the lower 700MHz frequency.

On the plus side, or on T-Mobile’s side, is that AT&T’s bid for extra low frequency spectrum could be challenged by the authorities over fears that it would then own too much, going against the spirit of competition. And it already owns around 75% of that low-band spectrum.

With the sale of stock and debt, Tmo has raised around $4 billion in cash specifically for bolstering its network and buying more spectrum, putting it in a good position to make use of VZW’s available block.

Whether or not this deal between Tmo and Verizon will go through is anyone’s guess right now. Companies are remaining fairly tight-lipped. What we do know is that magenta is putting spectrum acquisition on the top of its list of priorities for the short/medium term future. It’s done almost all that it can in terms of great offers over the past 9-12 months. Now’s the time to improve not only the amount of coverage offered across the States, but also the quality of that coverage.

Via: WSJ

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  • Verizonthunder

    T-Mobile needs this low frequency in more ways than one. Three main reason’s are expanded LTE coverage, two be able to receive a signal indoors and three to be even more competitive.

  • tmoemp

    Hey, we say “towers” or “sites” here. Not “masts”.

    • AndroidProfit

      I think your rudeness embarrasses us all. Close that barn door.

    • g2a5b0e

      I think I speak for a vast majority of the readers on this site when I say that we knew exactly what you meant, Cam.

    • Alex Zapata

      Calm your tits man.

    • Trevnerdio

      A mast is a synonym for tower. No harm, no foul.

  • TBN27

    Will this A block spectrum also reach out into the rural areas where T-Mobile only has EDGE and GPRS is also the question.

    • besweeet

      From reading technical discussions on HowardForums, no, this won’t help with rural coverage.

    • Adrayven

      Depends completely on where they are licensed. Spectrum licensing is not just frequency, buy location based.. so who knows where this spectrum is licensed. As much as they would pay, hopefully it covers a vast amount of the US.

    • Tanner

      The A-block is in certain metro areas and the outlying regions of those areas. Wouldn’t help to much with rural Coverage.

    • S. Ali

      Doesn’t matter, they still have to deploy LTE/HSPA equipment and backhaul to those towers whether its 700mhz, 1900mhz, or 2100mhz.

    • GinaDee

      The Verizon lower block… not so much. It would bolster their urban and suburban coverage though in key areas once built out.

      There is however several licenses nationwide that they could buy if sellers would sell. If T-Mobie wants a nationwide block of lower 700 they will need to pony up upwards of $6 or $7 billion dollars.

      The Verizon sales would just be a start.

  • besweeet

    I wonder if Legere’s trip to meet with those within the FCC would help them in this situation.

  • auser72

    This is more about stifling a burgeoning competitor vs acquiring spectrum for AT&T.

  • Manny

    I also read that Saturday they are overhauling some of their plans to make a Mobile Share Value where you split the bill like T-Mo does and they are upgrading their Next program to make sense.

    Competition is always a good thing. T-Mobile does something hot, now everyone is working hard for your dollar. How is that not a good thing?

  • S. Ali

    I think they just want to drive up the price, they aren’t actually interested in the spectrum. However, I could see a 3-way deal where ATT gives up some 1900mhz to T-mobile and extend their roaming agreements.

  • RIP Paul Walker

    I think T-mo could benefit greatly from this. They need to keep expanding their reach and really need to start fixing the issue of loss of signal once inside a building.

    • Paul

      It would be a move forward in the direction of keeping customers that live in rural areas. Even making the bid, as in actually making the bid and not just saying they are thinking about making a bid, shows that they are listening to their customers that gripe about the coverage.
      Here’s to hoping we get that band!

  • j

    I believe vz will sell to tmo since att is the only close competitor to them. Subscriber wise tmo is no threat so they would be smart to go with tmo instead of helping a company that is right on there heals. But we must not forget money talks, so if att puts up bigger numbers, a decision must be made. Go tmo!

    • superg05

      they swap alot actually

    • Trevnerdio

      Yeah but you can’t have AT&T place the highest bid and VZW be like nah man, I don’t like you, you can’t have this.

  • taron19119

    everybody is forgetting one thing this won’t be approved by the fcc because AT&T is about to get cricket

  • Hamster

    I have to assume they intend to use this spectrum for LTE since that’s really the only thing 700Mhz is used for anywhere else. If I understand correctly, phones would need to support LTE Band 12 to make use of the this spectrum.

    • taron19119

      every T Mobile LTE phone support the 700mz just needs an update for lte

      • Alex Zapata

        I don’t know if I believe that. There are 4 band classes for 700MHz. TMO devices have band 17, but Verizon has bands 12 and 13. The lower A block is band 12. You can probably Google it.

        • CPPCrispy

          True. For instance, the Nexus 5 supports 700MHz band 17 but not band 12. A block is band 12.

        • Alex Zapata

          Correct. As far as I know there isn’t a single device out there with band 12. Most likely due to the interference issues with channel 51. I could be wrong though.

        • U.S. Cellular devices, excluding the iPhone and iPad, all support band 12. But that’s it. :(

        • Alex Zapata

          Ah yes! How could I forget US Cellular! It’s a very short list, unfortunately :'(

  • sidekicker89

    is this nationwide 700MHz A block or just only certain areas ??

    • taron19119

      Just urban areas

    • sidekicker89

      Wait nevermind lol. Well if Tmo cant get all the spectrum from Verizon, they can get more from other private parties .

      • KlausWillSeeYouNow

        Like Dish…

        • macman37

          Echostar/Dish Network currently only has 700 Mhz Block E and AWS spectrum and none of 700 Mhz Block A.

        • SayNoToDish

          Your opinions are borderline worthless. You continue to perpetuate a worthless merger between two companies on different paths. Yes, Dish has spectrum, but they have nothing else. I could argue the same thing; tmobile should merge with a company with tons of spectrum and zero path forward. Tmobile is on the upswing, after years of treading water, and they are their own best friend. Theyll find their way, and it wont be by merging with a borderline Comcast wannabe.

        • KlausWillSeeYouNow

          You’re really ignorant. Dish was the only pay-TV subscriber to ADD customers. If you think that TV won’t matter in the future, you’re wrong. Dish knows the future is wireless, and they could really use T-Mo’s help to make TV over LTE possible.

          Deutsche Telekom wants OUT of the U.S. ASAP. If you’re too naive to recognize that Uncarrier and all the other great stunts T-Mobile is pulling are nothing more than increasing its value for a potential buyer, you’re very, very naive.

    • macman37

      Of the 25 700 MHz Block A licenses that Verizon and U.S. Cellular each bought, Verizon bought their 25 licenses targeted for urban/metro areas; while U.S. Cellular bought 25 licenses for the northern portion of the U.S.A..

  • Jay J. Blanco

    If tmobile lose I guess the only option left is to buy from the cable companies or join the auction thats coming up

    • sidekicker89

      What other cable companies have spectrum? I thought Verizon bought all of the spectrum from them.

  • MuthaFuckinStephen

    At&t is mad T-Mobile is picking up their customers by the truck load. I noticed more and more of my coworkers are on T-Mobile. I’m glad they’re starting to see the grass is greener here.

    • breenda

      not if u travel alot for work like i do and have tmobile if u do u would see the grass is “GREENER” on atts side lol

      • Justin747

        If T-Mobile doesn’t fit your needs then switch to AT&T.

  • breenda

    It would suck if att got it, but then again att prolly has more money than tmobile,so at the end most likely att is gonna end up getting it and extending its coverage which btw is bigger than what tmo offers already offers leaving tmobile in the dust ,i hope not since i have tmobile but i have a feeling thats gonna happen.

    • macman37

      Even though AT&T has the funds to outbid T-Mobile, the deal/acquisition of this spectrum more than likely will get denied and blocked if the FCC and DoJ deny AT&T of that opportunity. Their failed acquisition of T-Mobile should serve as a reminder and example of that.

  • SEBA

    Wow, this blog can’t complain about lock of experts.

  • Aurizen

    AT&T better not get that spectrum. they have enough. There just being greedy.

    • TheVorlon

      That’s what a monopoly does.

      • Aurizen

        yeah that sucks! but I though the FCC was regulating that to prevent that from happening.

    • macman37

      The 700 Mhz Block A would allow other networks/carriers like T-Mobile the ability to have interoperability with the same 4G LTE smartphones and tablets that AT&T currently has; but since AT&T does want other carriers/networks to have the opportunity/ability, they decided to prevent it by just bidding for it. Hopefully the FCC & DoJ will intervene to prevent it or block an acquisition from going through just like they blocked AT&T’s failed acquisition of T-Mobile.

    • Isaiah Davenport

      I agree. The FCC needs to do it’s job and protect the public interest by tell AT&T Wireless no and block the sale.

  • Magenta Man

    Somebody named Echostar owns coast to coast blanketed 700mhz in the D block. You can check it out on the FCCs site. Maybe they will go after some of that.

    • thejoeyh

      Echostar = Dish Network

    • KlausWillSeeYouNow

      If they merge with Dish Network, that 700Mhz is as good as T-Mobile’s. Wake up, people – a T-Dish would be fantastic. It’s the only sustainable, surer path forward. I want to see T-Mobile succeed – and Dish has the resources and spectrum to let it happen.

      • Mike

        Screw dish. Terrible service, terrible customer service, and prices would only go up. Tmo should acquire this block from VZ and acquire what is left of US Cellular to gain their 700Mhz, 1900Mhz, and 1700Mhz holdings.

        • macman37

          As T-Mobile looks to improve and expand their 4G LTE coverage, overlooking and passing up a possible acquisition of some 700 Mhz Block E would not be very wise. They would have 2 more 4G LTE bands if they do a deal, acquisition, or merger with the Dish Network – ones which the signal goes further and has better obstacle/building penetration. Currently, they want to improve what they currently have and improve as well as expand the rural/farm areas; and a deal with the Dish Network would do that. Purchasing spectrum that has higher frequencies like the 1900 MHz would not.

        • Mike

          US cellular owns 700MHz spectrum as well as 1900Mhz and 1700Mhz.

        • macman37

          And of those 3 frequencies, T-Mobile would be mostly interested in the 700 MHz Block A {LTE Band 12} and the 1700 MHz {AWS}. They have a lot of the 1900 MHz frequency.

        • Mike

          Exactly, thats when they will swap if needed in certain areas. You gotta think big picture.

        • Isaiah Davenport

          Unfortunately it is not T Mobile USA’s decsion it is up to Deutsche Telekom T Mobile USA’s owner if they choose to sell them and how much they want to sell them for.

        • KlausWillSeeYouNow

          That’s not a nice or fair thing to say at all. Boo.

          Also, the last thing they need is another CDMA integration on their hands.

        • Mike

          By time it took over , they would be using VoLTE by then. It will be easy to shut down CDMA just by attrition. .

        • KlausWillSeeYouNow

          What makes you think U.S. Cellular is ready for that? It’s privately held, and I doubt they’d consent. Plus, I object to AT&T because they buy out competitors, always smaller ones. Let’s not make another AT&T. At the very least, if they were to acquire USCC, they should keep its branding.

        • Isaiah Davenport

          I would be against AT&T buying out any more carriers including the small ones. After AT&T Wireless bought Cricket Wireless they no longer have a porting department to fix any port issues, their support is no longer competent and if a battery and sim pull does not fix the issue then they have exhausted all of their troubleshooting when talking on the phone or have you keep doing the same thing over and over again. Not to mention AT&T wireless took away the hotspots that Cricket Wireless used to have and sell. They cap their data speeds. AT&T Wireless destroyed Cricket Wireless. I think they did that intentionally to get rid of a competitor.

    • macman37

      Echostar/Dish Network actually does not have any of the 700 Mhz Block D; but they bought licenses of the 700 Mhz Block E at the 2008 Wirless Auction. At that time, no one bought any licenses of the 700 Mhz Block D; no price was set yet.

  • Mike

    My guess is this…VZ doesn’t consider Tmo an immediate threat. It considers ATT a huge threat and its number one competitor. And pretty much everyone has written off Sprint (for the near term). Then add in to the mix US government’s fight to prevent ATT/Tmo merger as being bad for consumers while ATT was screaming it was necessary – yet the proof is that it was not. The Feds don’t believe ATT anymore – they have lost a lot of clout. There would be a big drawn out fight. So it makes the most sense that the quickest and easiest way to billions in cash is a deal with Tmo.

  • steveb944

    I hope T-Mobile is able to pick it up. And that Verizon doesn’t see AT&T as an option due to direct competition.

  • UMA_Fan

    I think T-Mobile could easily get the DOJ to have it’s back on the chance at&t out bids them.

    Seems like at&t is in crisis mode over T-Mobile. First they create their own no subsidy plans with lower rates now they are trying to block their spectrum buy.

    • superg05

      false no subisdy and lower rates?

  • sushimane

    I hope tmobile would get this win. Att already got the leap wireless for more spectrum for them to grab sum more spectrum from Verizon isnt good. We all know doj and the fcc love competition but when the top two carrier in the states especially att try to get more spectrum it should be an easy no in my opinion. Tmobile has a long way to go to becoming number three.

  • kyo251

    What ever happened to that small chunk of 700mhz spectrum that metro pcs win in the auction.

    • superg05

      its a very tiny amount in some backwater area

      • Drew

        Yeah, called Boston/New England.

        • superg05


  • kev2684

    AT&T feeling the heat

  • GinaDee

    I know a lot of you guys hate Dish… but… T-Mobile IMHO should partner with them and go after all available spectrum together in joint bids. Dish would provide money and TV/multi-media services and T-Mobile would provide what it does best.

    They don’t have to merge yet but partner up on network build-outs so T-Mobile doesn’t have to go it alone on spectrum auctions. This is the only way I think they’ll be able to counter Sprint once they finish their nationwide 800 MHz rollout.

    • Justin747

      Don’t worry about Sprint too much. Even with Softbank and all the spectrum they hold. I guarantee after they finish the 800mhz rollout they will find a way to screw themselves over.

      I worked at Sprint for a while. Sprint is poorly run internally from the top to the very bottom in all departments.

      • superg05

        they have new top management lte is starting to pop up a good amount now

      • KingCobra

        At the rate it takes them to do things, I wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t get done with their 800mhz rollout until late 2015

    • KlausWillSeeYouNow

      Amen. T-Dish is badly needed. #SeeTheLight

    • macman37

      If T-Mobile beats AT&T in acquiring the 700 Mhz Block A frequency, this in addition to the Block E frequency that the Dish Network will use and T-Mobile’s current AWS holdings would greatly benefit T-Mobile.

    • KlausWillSeeYouNow

      Honestly, most of the hate is unsubstantiated, Gina. Dish is no Comcast or even AT&T, for that matter. They’re the underdog in their respective market, which is TV.

      There are plenty of hotshots who come on here because their friend’s-daughter’s-boyfriend’s-sister’s-cousin’s-niece had a bad experience with Dish. It’s the same type of slop that AT&T has been flinging at T-Mobile for years. If you believe Dish is inherently bad or poorly-run, you must also believe T-Mobile is too.

  • superg05

    i think it would be a good idea to mostly buy 700mhz in rural areas not urban that way they can really expand there reach since more urban is already covered

  • ghulamsameer

    If T-Mobile does win this A block of spectrum, what states/cities will be impacted?

  • macman37

    AT&T has fought long and hard against interoperability with other carriers when it comes to the use of the 700 Mhz spectrum. Their reason for wishing to acquire the Block A of the 700 Mhz spectrum is due to Block A giving other carriers access to the same 700 Mhz LTE phones and tablets that AT&T currently use. Keeping this in mind, this should be compelling enough for both the FCC & DoJ to intervene and either put restrictions or block this acquisition like they block AT&T desired and failed acquisition of T-Mobile.

  • I hope Tmobile Wins!!! It would be amazing for the network!

  • Tm

    If they did got the spectrum would 2g be gone

  • KlausWillSeeYouNow

    Your enthusiasm is invigorating. :-)