NTelos selling its PCS Spectrum in eastern Virginia to T-Mobile


According to a report this morning, nTelos Wireless – a Sprint wholesale partner – is exiting its eastern Virginia markets to prioritize western Virginia and West Virginia. It plans to sell around $56 million worth of 1900MHz spectrum to T-Mobile, which will help the Uncarrier with its continued LTE expansion. 

Ntelos entered an agreement to sell its wireless spectrum licenses in Hampton Roads and Richmond to T-Mobile for about $56 million in cash, according to a news release. The deal is pending subject to approval from the Federal Communications Commission and is expected to close in April next year.

nTelos’ eastern Virginia markets include Hampton Roads/Norfolk and Richmond, VA. And it plans to wind down both retail and network operations there during 2015. 

nTelos is pitching this as an effort to focus on areas where it is most competitive with other carriers:

“In an effort to strengthen our retail sales performance and leverage our strategic relationship with Sprint, we are right-sizing our business and redirecting our resources on our Western Markets, which provide us the greatest opportunity for sustained, profitable growth,” nTelos Chairman Michael Huber said in a statement. “At the same time, we are exiting markets that have become increasingly competitive and where we have been unable to achieve acceptable financial returns.”

As for customers currently using nTelos’ network, it’s expected that they will be transitioned to another carrier.

While it’s a sign of downscaling for nTelos, it’s an opportunity for T-Mobile to continue improving its LTE coverage in rural eastern Virginia, and I’m sure will come as welcome news to anyone in that area currently without LTE.

Sources: Fierce Wireless, Daily Press

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  • UMA_Fan

    Great news. The positive with 1900mhz over 700mhz is that it helps people with iPhones and older android phones get immediate coverage improvements to hold them off until they upgrade to a 700mhz supported phone.

    • Douglas Quaid

      This will actually give them 25×25 PCS spectrum in Eastern Virginia. That’s on top of their 20×20 AWS Spectrum there.

      Once they fire up LTE-A, the area could potentially have one of the fastest Tmobile services in America and still leave 5×5 PCS for WCDMA or GSM

      • UMA_Fan

        Are you sure they have 20×20 aws over there?

        • Yes. TMUS owns channels D, E and F in the AWS band in the Richmond area, making up 20MHz of spectrum.

        • UMA_Fan

          Ah but I’m guessing a lot of it is devoted to HSPA+

      • Not really. After this purchase is concluded, TMUS will own 15MHz in channel B in addition to the current 5 MHz in channel F in the PCS band. Yet, since they are not contiguous and not wide enough for carrier aggregation to make a noticeable difference in bandwidth, the spectrum will remain 15+15 and 5+5 PCS, depending on the tower.

        • kev2684

          if they already had 2x20AWS there, then they probably bought the PCS spectrum to move HSPA+42 to PCS and make wideband 2×20 LTE on AWS and GSM Edge to remain on the 2x5mhz PCS they own prior. that’s what their plan looks like in florida where almost everywhere but the northwest area they have at least 2×20 AWS and some 2×25 AWS plus generous PCS spectrum.

    • TechnoRealz

      That’s what I am hoping for too as my OPO has only the 1900 specs..

  • UMA_Fan

    I guess they didn’t make a play for their customers as well because they aren’t worth the integration and grandfathering of their lower cost plans. It’s likely once Ntelos fully shuts down most of those customers are going to be headed to T-Mobile/MetroPCS on their own anyway.

    • RiskyBidThis

      MetroPCS was launched in Richmond, VA this summer/fall and Cricket has evidently opened a number of locations as well, so it seems likely that both will snag a portion.

  • UMA_Fan

    It’s 20mhz worth so that should be enough for wideband LTE.

    • Actually, it’s the 15MHz B channel in the PCS band. Yet, should still be enough for wideband LTE.

      • RiskyBidThis

        Only 10MHz, the channel has been split and Verizon has the other 5MHz.

  • RiskyBidThis

    The western side of Virginia is the rural part, they’re paying $56,000,000 for these because they’re in the most highly-populated areas of Virginia other than the D.C. suburbs.

  • Philz

    Im a very happy Va Beach / Tidewater customer stoked on network upgrades going on.
    A couple months ago T store rep informed me that hardware had been upgraded & 2 new towers added during summer for speed blast in late December – February.

    • FILA

      I was down in VA beach in July and LTE speeds were pretty damn good. Cant wait to see what they are next summer when Im down!! I love T-Mobile

  • Troy

    LTE service is pretty good in Hampton Roads so I guess this will allow more towers. Still waiting for my area to get 700 so we can have better service inside.

    • taxandspend

      They don’t own 700 in the Hampton Roads area

      • ChitChatCat

        Maybe that’s why he’s waiting?

      • Troy

        Why not?

  • Logan S

    T-mo need to revamp their coverage in the I-64 stretch between Richmond and Hampton Roads, and between Richmond and Fredericksburg. IF and when they could provide non-stop LTE coverage between DC and VA Beach, I will call that a huge improvement. I hope this purchase will help them get there.

    They also still need to do a lot of work on the western corridor (I-81 and I-66). While it’s good that they are focusing on the dense areas first, millions of people travel between these metro areas and T-mo coverage drops like flies just 40 minutes out of town in these very well traveled roads.

    • TechnoRealz

      My first experience as a TMO customer outside of a metro area occurred over the thanksgiving holiday driving from Richmond down to Tampa & Orlando.

      Bad: Like you said, data coverage drops to G in some places & just narrowly outside of town also.
      Along I95, esp. in SC & GA – there is only G data coverage or worse no data & makes acquiring GPS data (if I didn’t do offline maps) impossible.

      Good: FL is data strong. Almost from the moment you enter the state from GA there is good LTE along I95.
      Phone coverage is strong all the way down I95.

      I have a OnePlus One – and it’s been a great experience in every metro area I’ve been to…but the reputation that TMO has about being data coverage poor outside the metro areas are still true.

      I wonder how ATT & VZW are along these same routes.

      • Logan S

        I have an AT&T unlimited hotspot for this reason.

    • UMA_Fan

      Well they’ve said publicly middle of 2015 for 2G only areas to LTE with half of that conversion complete by end of year. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a big improvement through that route early next year.

  • RJ

    If T-mo really wants to send shock-waves at the industry cover the entire stretch of I-95 From Maine to Miami, Cover I-90 from Logan- Seattle and all in between. Then cover I-77 from the Carolina’s though the West Virginia Mountains and all the way thru Ohio. Heak in general they need more Lte Coverage on any major interstate outside of main metro areas. I have done a lot of traveling for fun over the past few years and countless times have seen my Tmo phone on Deathstar’s network. If T-mo can cover those in between rural areas and keep prices below Deathstar and Big Red Machine I’m willing to bet some more people would jump and even businesses too. If someone in the top tier of T-mo company officials dare to take a road trip on some of those cross country highways and see their 600 plus dollar smart phone say E or even G or ATT they would feel our pain and address these issues faster. I mean upgrading and transforming an entire network is no overnight flip of a switch, especially being light-years behind from the start. So far they have taken the right steps, but more need to be done.