T-Mo, AT&T to swap spectrum in a number of markets


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)

AWS Bonus:

  • 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)

PCS highlights:

  • 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.

Thanks, Justin.

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  • maximus1901

    Too bad nothing for tmobile’s lonely Cincinnati 5x5mhz AWS.

    • AxelCloris

      I came hoping to read news of a Cincinnati trade as well. No such luck.

  • rusky

    When will Cincinnati get lte.

    • Bryce

      When they get around to building out a Band 2 PCS LTE network there. They aren’t going to use AWS because they don’t want to cannibalize HSPA+ service.

    • JB45

      When channel 51 moves and we can use the 700 we got from Verizon

      • rusky

        Do you think it will be up before the year is out?

        • Aurizen

          Next year.

        • JB45

          well since T-Mobile is the sponsor of MLB. My guess is we will def have LTE turned on in Cincinnati by July 2015 since the all-star game will be here then.

      • AxelCloris

        T-Mo could also buy the former CBT spectrum from Verizon. Assuming the Verizon/CBT deal goes through. It doesn’t look like there’s any resistance to the buyout so that should happen later this year. Verizon has worked with T-Mobile on the 700 band, so we could see another sale.

        • John Brown

          I doubt it. I have a feeling Verizon bought Cincy Bell to deploy XLTE in Cincinnati.

      • Danny Lewis

        Also, when you upgrade to a phone that supports the new spectrum. : I guess there’s no news about that yet is there?

  • maximus1901

    Current devices cannot support narrow w-CDMA so TMO will never deploy that. They should just shutdown 2g in 2017 like att is doing and in pcs, have 10 MHz Hspa and refarm the rest to lte.

  • guest

    Too bad I live in the one con area of this whole thing.

  • GameBoi/KillaBit

    I have HSPA plus in half my town. I’ll be happy with that if tmo can just cover it. It’s a shame that I can go out in the middle of nowhere and have great 4G service, come to town… EDGE. Southeast Missouri.

    • Austin

      Which city? That almost describes Farmington perfectly.

      • GameBoi/KillaBit

        Close, Poplar Bluff, Mo. Straight down from Farmington.

        • Austin

          Oh, okay! I’m familiar with Poplar Bluff because I live in Fredericktown. Wow, nice to see someone so close here on TmoNews.

  • chris

    Good news to hear, but disappointed as a METRO PCS/Mobile customer I don’t see Michigan on the list where there no coverage in the other half in Northern part of Michigan and the rural, urban areas, but of course the south has coverage in Michigan. well I guess well still have to wait as always !!!

    • anon

      i saw a post on howard forums that shown new native tmo service in northwest michigan if i remember correctly. it was new 3g coverage with no edge present

  • Tom

    I love it.

  • gadget_hero

    I had hoped $T would part with some of the lower A block 700MHz that Leap had in Nashville. Since T-Mobile didn’t have any there.

    • 50atomic

      Leap only has 700a in Chicago which they are going to sell within two years. The 700a covering Nashville is held by C Spire who hasn’t deployed it yet.

      • gadget_hero

        Ah good to know, as C Spire isn’t in Nashville I wonder if they would part with it, they could probably use the $ as aren’t they deploying FTTH everywhere in Mississippi?

  • anarkust

    “CMA112 Corpus Christi, TX (path to 20 MHz FDD LTE on AWS D+E+F)” Here in Corpus Christi, we’ve had LTE for almost a year. What does the above statement mean to us? All info is appreciated. Thank you.

    • 50atomic

      Faster speeds!

  • Aurizen

    Ah, it seems Philly wont be getting it, hope they get spectrum from other carriers that’s low 700 or 600 MHz and can get better in building penetration compatible with most phones.

    • 50atomic

      Probably not until the 600MHz incentive auction. Philadelphia is already in relatively good spectrum standing (40 MHz AWS D+E+F, 30 MHz PCS C, 12 MHz 700a) to run 2G/GSM/EDGE and 4G/DC-HSPA+/42Mbps on PCS, 20 MHz FDD Wideband LTE on AWS, and another 5 MHz FDD LTE on 700 MHz.

      • Aurizen

        when is the 600MHz incentive auction?

        • philyew

          Not fixed yet, but some months ago the FCC suggested it might be mid 2015.

        • Aurizen

          aw man thats gonna be a long time, the auction and then implementing it and wait for phones to support all of T-mobile upgrade. :(

        • Jay Holm

          Middle of next year.

  • KingCobra

    Ready to see when T-Mo will make a move to acquire more spectrum in the Carolinas. Charlotte is still only a 5+5 market.

  • CalicoKJ

    Consistent coverage in ID/MT would be really nice to see…it’s getting better in my area but there’s still a ways to go.

    • ChristianMcC

      Good luck with that. I know people in MT who didn’t even know who Tmo was. Idaho, would be great though, and I guess Moscow has benefited, per yesterday’s report.

      • Ryan

        I live in the Boise area and speeds have really improved.

  • John Brown

    Meanwhile in Cincinnati (where T-Mo DESPERATELY needs spectrum), absolutely NOTHING

    • Danny Lewis

      T-Mo really should have bought Cincinnati Bell instead of Verizon. Verizon is now the mobile phone carrier king of Cincinnati.

  • HoustonEast

    Finally Beaumont Texas getting some love!! :)

    • sosharpdevy

      Agreed, I live in Port Arthur and this 5mhz lte is getting to overloaded. This is much need capacity.

  • K-ON

    I get a consistent 30-40mbps on LTE here in Oklahoma.

    • GinaDee

      What neighborhood or intersection are you getting those speeds at?

    • Ashton3002

      What part please because I live in Tulsa and I’m thinking about switching from Sprint.

      • Nerd_Baller

        Why don’t you just sign up for tmobile’s test drive and give their network a try?

        • Ashton3002

          I work and you must send it to the same address which is the billing address. Number one its not my address and number two I can’t be there to sign for it because I’m at work all day and I don’t want to leave it outside.

  • Marcus

    This is a tad off topic, but is anyone reading from the Las Vegas metro area experiencing slowed LTE speeds, these past few days? This seems to be an all-around-city experience for myself and my iphone 5 at the time, which usually averages 20-40 Mbps lowest, and it seems to be ‘crawling’ around 7-11, again, all around town.

    I’m just a little curious–as maybe this could have something to do with them finally shutting down the metro pcs CDMA network and deploying of wideband LTE…?

    *crosses fingers*

    • Cam Fas

      I live in Henderson and work in Vegas at the international airport while I have averaged 30mbs in Henderson I’ve had slow speeds near downtown I am not sure if I have noticed any major speed slowdowns or speed ups but I hope we get wide band even more then I want volte fingers crossed that we can get 20+20 I’ve heard around the grape vine that this market would be capible of 20+20 after the metro spectrum was repurposed but what do I know? Fingers crossed

      • 50atomic

        Well you fellas are in luck, T-Mobile just decommissioned MetroPCS AWS CDMA network in Las Vegas on 7/6 so you will be getting Wideband LTE soon for sure! T-Mobile has a whopping 50MHz of contiguous AWS and 30MHz of contiguous PCS spectrum. source: http://www.metropcs.com/metro/static/genericstaticpage.jsp?title=upgradenow

        • Cam Fas

          So basically making a long story short the Vegas market is going to get some insane wide band lte just wondering how many MHz they will keep for edge and hspa+ I think it’s a good move to put as much into the lte network as possible since it’s future proofing itself

    • xeronine992

      I was there last weekend and noticed that disabling LTE made my speedtests faster. Strange!

    • Tyler Kirchman

      I’ve never scene speeds like that’s I live in Southwest Vegas. When LTE was first introduced I remember it maxed out around 25-35 down and like 20mbps up. Now it seams like the network got really congested lately with max speeds in the 10mbps and upload is like 4-6 Mbps.

      • Marcus

        Southwest Las Vegas (Rhodes ranch, etc) has notoriously been sparse with their high speed data–I believe most towers around that area are more recently just updated with LTE, so I have experienced slower than the average city speeds on that part of town, like you mentioned.

        As far as my original post, however, I was more worried about the Inner City (strip), North, and Northwest parts of town which typically has phenomenal service. All seems to be back to normal! No wideband yet though :-(

        • Cam Fas

          Hopefully we can get wide band in Vegas sometime soon especially since they shut dims the metro cdma side of things

      • Cam Fas

        Every network is slowing down maybe in 5 years give or take they can use all their spectrum for lte on all networks if they shut down edge and hspa+ we can finally have 50+50 in all cities who know maybe in 5 years we will one day have 70+70 I’m sure congestion problems would end

        • Tyler Kirchman

          Im just waiting for them to complete the LTE rollout. There still there’s still some towers they haven’t upgraded. Then they claim they have LTE everywhere.

  • tamer

    What about Mississippi, coverage there sucks big time and looks like no one cares !!!!!

  • tamer

    This is really not fair, most of Mississippi suck as walls, coldwater, bahalia, tunica, hernando… and the list goes on and on literally has ZERO coverage for years now and we don’t hear any plan so fix that. Why ??!!!

    • guidomus_maximus


      Beaumont The city’s population was 118,296 at the 2010 census making it the twenty-fourth most populous city in the state of Texas and the state’s largest city east of Houston.

      Coldwater, MS The population was 1,674 at the 2000 census
      Just sayin…

  • Danny Lewis

    “CMA 448 Kentucky 6 – Madison (reduced from 20 to 15 MHz FDD LTE on AWS E+F)”

    Damn it. I live in Richmond (Madison Co.)… T-Mo worked so well there. However, I switched to AT&T when they allowed one to BYOD w/o a contract. I needed coverage, but hoped that someday to switch back. I guess that dream is dead. Richmond, KY is the furthest south along I-75 to get T-Mo service until you get to Knoxville, TN. ;_;

    • 50atomic

      It just means T-Mobile won’t be able to deploy in the future max 150 Mbps capable LTE and instead have to settle with 112.5 Mbps LTE. They still have 30MHz of PCS in Richmond to later deploy 42 Mbps DC-HSPA+ alongside maintaining EDGE support.

  • Brendan Ward

    I think tmobile is having false claims when they say their lte is the fastest then how co when I download app from google playstore at&t is faster tmobiles coverage still sucks in the north east glad I left them and went back to at&t

    • Curt0195

      This guy typed an entire paragraph without using one single piece of punctuation… It’s impressive really, almost as impressive as is his scientific assessment, analysis, and comparison between AT&T’s and T-Mobile’s LTE network performance!

  • Jay Holm

    Seems like mostly Texas. . nothing in Connecticut it seems.

  • YABD

    New technologies will arise to overcome this problem. Maybe the subdivision of the frequencies or some like that.

  • Nerd_Baller

    Anyone know a place to search what specific tech each tmobile tower or area has in place right now? I live on the edge of salt lake city and my signal bounces between 4G and lte constantly

  • dontsh00tmesanta

    Doesn’t affect me