T-Mobile 700MHz spectrum deal with Triad complete, covers 2.43 million POPs

T-Mobile building

In September, T-Mobile had been on something of a roll. It submitted many applications to acquire more low-band spectrum from a number of companies and owners. One of the biggest transactions (or collection of transactions) was with Triad 700. A company which owned 700MHz spectrum in Alaska and Nevada among others. In total, the deal would bring band 12 coverage to 2.43 million people. Just a few days back, the transaction was approved by the FCC.

What that means is T-Mo is now free to build out its 700MHz frequency in Anchorage, Alaska and Reno, Nevada as well as Erie, Pennsylvania and Salisbury, Maryland. Of course, these licenses cover quite a wide area of individual markets, counties and cities, so for the full list of affected areas beside to check out the FCC PDF.

Briefly, the markets covered are as follows:

  • Alaska – Anchorage, Bethel, Wade Hampton and Haines
  • California – Modoc, Alpine, Mono andSierra
  • Delaware and Maryland – Kent
  • Nevada – Reno, Humboldt, Lander, Storey and White Pine
  • Pennsylvania – Crawford, Lawrence and Erie
  • Virginia – Caroline

Once the markets are live, they’ll add to those already officially active in Cleveland, Colorado Springs, Minneapolis and Washington, helping customers retain LTE coverage even after they go indoors.

Source: FCC filing 1, filing 2, filing 3, filing 4

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  • RiskyBidThis

    I’ve been waiting for Sir Omega to do another update so I can see that lovely shade of magenta expand more, particularly out west.

    • RiskyBidThis

      Oh and you really should have linked to the assignment of authorization instead of the individual licenses IMO.


  • GreatNews

    Zero mention of New York City?

    • dtam

      NYC got wideband LTE, they aren’t allowed to roll out 700 MHZ until the channel 51 vacates in 2016

      • GreatNews

        Damn that’s a long time to wait! But OK

        • CJ

          Whats on channel 51

        • pbxtech

          WNJN – in Montclair, NJ. a PBS station.

      • pbxtech

        WNJN vacated using that channel 2 months ago.

        Just waiting for TMO to deploy it. Looks like the same crew who deployed LTE are the same people who will be installing hardware at the site.

        • What? How do you know that?

        • pbxtech

          One of the NJTV forum complaint about OTA signal is no longer broadcasting as off 2 months ago. Didn’t book marked website, can’t find it now.

        • According to the FCC, the signal is still active. It might be true, but insofar as the FCC is concerned, it’s not.

        • Roger Sales

          Government agencies/paper pushers aren’t exactly known for updating in a timely manner. I mean, it takes months to approve 700A license sales to T-Mobile when they might as well be rubber stamped given how pointless it would be for anyone to contest a sale to an underdog within the review period. That being said, New York itself doesn’t get WNJN as far as I know, its a channel that specifically covers(and therefore doesn’t broadcast in New York) news in New Jersey.

        • dtam


          a red circle means that there aren’t any plans until 2016. green circle means the channel has agreed to vacate sooner

        • That’s not what a red circle means. It means there hasn’t been an announced move, and there’s not likely to be any kind of service ever. Red circle means it is there until further notice.

        • dtam

          aka, no plans to move until they’re forced to (without a long winded explanation)

  • Jay J. Blanco

    The last frontier gets to coverage soon. Awesome!

  • Cam Fas

    ughhh almost Nevada almost LOL Vegas I have faith in you

  • Joe

    Now they just need to buy Cavalier License Group so that NC, SC, NY, and other’s can get low band.

    • RiskyBidThis

      Agreed. They should go after Cavalier’s licenses next, then Continuum, then Cox (AB License Co).

      There are still some smaller license holders they may buy out though (e.g. Bresnan, also Union Telephone has most of the lower 700MHz [A,B,C] in Wyoming).

      • Joe

        Ya that is what I hope they do, but they will probably buy the smaller license holders first. And then Cavaler, Continuum, and Cox.

    • itguy08

      Amen. Would round our their PA perfectly as Cavalier Squatters, err, license Group owns most of Central PA- Cumberland, Dauphin counties, all the way up to State College and beyond. Pretty much all of PA that T-Mobile doesn’t own.

      Time for John to call them up and make them an “Offer They Can’t Refuse”.

      • RiskyBidThis

        John isn’t the Godfather. Cavalier will sell or see the value of their spectrum disappear in about 6-8 months once the build-out deadline gets too close to meet.

        • itguy08

          Doesn’t have to be Godfather-like. But there are plenty of “offers you can’t refuse” every day in business.

          You do realize all the A block holders just got extended by the FCC till December, 2019 right? You could co-locate towers in the next 4 years easily….

        • jay_max

          Two of the three links still show initial build-out deadlines of December 2016. One appears to have the deadline moved to 2019.

        • RiskyBidThis

          They still need to cover 35% of the geographical area by 12/13/16 or they can lose them. The 2019 date is for 70% geographical coverage.

          T-Mobile hasn’t overpaid for 700A yet and they shouldn’t start now. Time will only reduce the licenses’ value, so it’s a game of chicken where the speculators have a lot more to lose.

        • That doesn’t make sense. Why do you think that?

        • RiskyBidThis

          Which part? Them not overpaying or squatters potentially losing their licenses if they don’t sell or build them out to 35% of geographic coverage by 12/13/2016?

          Some suggested that T-Mobile overpaid for Verizon’s 700A, but in hindsight it looks like a bargain (5MHz blocks for NY and LA in the AWS-3 auction are going for ~$0.9-1.2B each). The only other transaction we know the dollar amount on is the Actel one and that was $56M for 8.4M POPs which is a definite bargain (they paid virtually the same amount for nTelos’ PCS covering 3.6M POPs).

          As for the second part, the FCC has geographic build out requirements for 700A instead of a population coverage requirement. That coverage excludes certain types of land (i.e. federal lands) but it’s pretty strict and it’s possible for licenses to be taken back if the requirements aren’t met.

          You can refer to section 19 of the FCC’s 700 MHz Second Report and Order for proof (fccDOTgov/document/700-mhz-second-report-and-order-order-reconsideration): “Specifically, the Commission provided that licensees that fail to meet their interim benchmarks might lose a portion of the remaining unserved areas of the license and such licensees may also be subject
          to enforcement action, including forfeitures.”

        • RiskyBidThis

          Oh and to address the possible third point (why squatters have more to lose): A number of them exist solely to resell the spectrum licenses they won at a profit. Selling at a loss is better than a total loss and that also holds true for license holders like Cox that have other businesses to fall back on.

        • Roger Sales

          Not if the channel isn’t cleared. I’m pretty sure theres some language in regard to the channel 51 situation that they can’t be expected to build something that can’t even be turned on yet in a given market.

        • RiskyBidThis

          Channel 51 interference is a non-issue in the majority of Cavalier license areas.

        • Roger Sales

          My question is, who is Cavalier and Continuum 700 exactly? I know AB is Cox, but who else? and is there any chance they won’t sell to T-Mobile at least eventualy? or is the idea here just trying to get the right price from Magenta?

        • RiskyBidThis

          I don’t know and in a number of cases-like Continuum-they seem deliberately structured to make that hard or impossible to figure out. Two different investment firms have interests in Continuum and there are numerous individual stakeholders besides.

          Cavalier is headed by a former Cellular One executive (Wirt Yerger), but much past that I can’t say. Their filings also list a Catherine D. Pierson, but their website isn’t active, or at least not publicly viewable and their given address is a non-descript building in MS that also houses insurance firms, law offices, and a Wells Fargo Advisors location.

    • Raiterio Patterson

      Bingo. There’s a channel 51 interference in North Carolina. We could use that 700Mhz A block spectrum in the Western part of North Carolina

      • Joe

        That is true :( but it would still make me happy for them to have it till channel 51 leaves and then I will be the happiest person ever.

  • Oms

    I wish there was news like this for Chicago!

    • Mike

      I agree, but the spectrum would need to be other than 700 MHz A block at this point due to interference from TV channel 51(WPWR-TV virtual channel 50).

  • Arturo B

    It’s incredible how T Mobile is investing all this money exactly on this 700mhz A block antennas while they could it chose another type like B or C block which most of the current gen smartphones support this bands. Don’t get me wrong this is a great move by T Mobile getting low band but the fact is, that there are a lot of people in the T Mobile network that won’t upgrade their phones for a band 12 phone when they come out, cause they believe that if their phones are working flawlessly there’s no need for an upgrade. So this is where I come with my point there will be so many people that won’t be able to take advantage of this just cause their current smartphones which are working perfectly well won’t be getting this low frequency instead they will continue to say that T Mobile is crap in doors just cause their phones aren’t capable on capturing the band 12 signal because there’s just so much people in the T Mobile network that really don’t have a clue on what’s T Mobile is up to with their coverage. So if T Mobile would had thought of this better before buying A block 700mhz instead of B or C block which like I said most current gen smartphones support it, there would be an even greater satisfaction among a lot of more people in the T Mobile network. Even people who still use the iPhone 5, 5s and 6 would it taken advantage and satisfaction from this. But instead everyone who wants to improve their coverage like it or not they will have to upgrade their current phones which I hardly think a lot of folks would do just to get a band support on their perfectly functioning device. This is just my point guys I’m honestly not against of what T Mobile is doing recently which is amazingly great in the most parts, but choosing A Block among other bands which are currently supported by current devices simply wasn’t a big move for the satisfaction of almost 100% of their customers.

    • AT&T owns most, if not all of the Lower 700MHz B and C block licenses. T-Mobile is starting to acquire some Lower 700MHz B and C blocks where it can, though.

      • Arturo B

        I really hope so! That way even more customers would take advantage of this new antennas.

        • RiskyBidThis

          Doesn’t work that way. Unless they use MFBI to also advertise as a band 17 network their B/C licenses will also show up as band 12 and people will still need new phones.

          This will solve itself over time since they plan to have band 12 on all of their new LTE phones going forward.

      • giblets66

        Where are they buying B and C blocks? I thought all the transactions thus far were A block.

        • Roger Sales

          South Dakota

    • giblets66

      Spectrum is a limited resource and AT&T already owns most of the lower B/C blocks. Those licenses are in use and simply not for sale. We’ve known this was coming for almost a year now and it won’t be widespread for another year. Most people don’t keep phones that long anyway. As soon as I heard 700 MHz block A was coming I decided to keep my Nexus 4 until a suitable band 12 phone comes out, it’s really not a big deal.

      • Arturo B

        Dude I know people who have phones from like 3 and 4 years ago. Their simply believe that if their phones are capable of getting their work done and able to make phone calls they don’t need to upgrade. So yeah it’s a big deal for some people. And I know even a greater number of people who use T Mobile that don’t have a single clue of what they are up to with their coverage. Trust me there’s a lot of folks out there that don’t care much about tech or improvements let’s say like you, me and the rest of people who read every blog this page post.

        • francob911 .

          Its a minimum amount that don’t upgrade their phone its not a high priority.

        • giblets66

          That’s fair, but people with 4 year old phones shouldn’t expect all of the latest network features (VoLTE, band 12, carrier aggregation, etc.) I for one am glad that the network is advancing at a rapid pace. These old phones still work just fine with the features they were sold with.

          T-mobile didn’t define the band classes, that was the work of the FCC and the AT&T/Verizon juggernaut. Lower 700 A/B/C should have always been one band, with a buffer between lower 700A and channel 51. T-mobile made the best move it could given the situation.

        • Roger Sales


        • Roger Sales

          For people with older phones there are cheap alternatives available right now that are on par with the performance of those old phones and support 700A/Band 12 (ZTE Zmax for phablet fans, Galaxy Avant).
          If you don’t want to upgrade, no one is forcing you to, but you can’t ask to reap the benefits of something that didn’t even exist when you bought your original device – thats just stupid. No one is going to argue T-Mobile does more for their customers than any other carrier. Who else is going to offer you a six month upgrade so you can take advantage of the newer network(via JUMP)? Not AT&T or Verizon, I can tell you that much.

        • steveb944

          If those people have 3-4 year old phones they don’t even have access to LTE so they obviously don’t care enough to even jump onto LTE so they don’t care about upgrades to the network either.

          I love it when people blame the network, when it’s their old crappy phone, or they blame the phone and it’s user negligence for being oblivious to newer technology.

    • itguy08

      I’m failing to see the issue here. If their phone works for them and gets their work done, there is no need to upgrade.

      T-Mobile has said that new phones in 2015 will have 700a so when they do eventually upgrade they will get the new bands “for free” so they will be all set.

      • yankeesusa

        The nexus 6, note 4 and xperia 3 all have 700 band capability. Don’t know what you mean by phones in 2015. Phones are already out that work on that band.

        • itguy08

          T-Mobile said that new phone releases in 2015 will have 700a. Yes, there are phones out today that have it. Some have it firmware disabled (Xperia, Galaxy Avant), some have it working. I’d imagine that new 2015 phones will all support 700a out of the box.

    • xmiro

      what are you bitching about? There’s hardly any B or C block spectrum left, and none in places that matter like South Florida, NYC, LA, Dallas hence Band 12. And there’s band 12 because AT&T carved out A block and made their own band

      • Arturo B

        Dude, first of all nobody is bitching about nothing… Learn how to read first I was just giving an overall point. And secondly I know that already and could care less of whichever low band t mobile rolls I’m still upgrading my phone every year that’s why I pay for jump… The fact is I was giving a point for people that doesn’t upgrade that often and don’t have a clue of what’s t mobile is up to on their coverage.

        • Jason R

          Quite frankly this is a meaningless point. Even amongst the lowest of the low demographics and amongst the marginal classes of society people are upgrading phones all the time. Infact the poor people tend to do it as much if not more out of some kind of status they associate to cell phones. The days of long upgrade cycles are gone.

        • jay_max

          Lower 700 bands B and C are largely owned by AT&T. There’s no way AT&T would sell that valuable spectrum to TMO, and the portions not owned by AT&T aren’t enough to even cover half the country. Upper 700 band C is owned by Verizon. Same thing…there’s virtually zero chance Big Red would part with that spectrum.

    • Jerry Kindall

      People tend to upgrade their phones every year or two. T-Mo’s rollout of compatible devices has already begun, well before they have a lot of coverage. By the time Band 12 is widely available, I’m sure they will have a lot of customers on devices capable of using it. You have to assume that a company making this kind of investment in network upgrades is not run by total morons who failed to consider device compatibility with the new spectrum.

    • maximus1901

      you are clueless. att owns most of 700bc n17 blocks and anyone else who owns 700bc b17 is using it because as you said, it’s compatible with phones today!

    • yankeesusa

      Upgrading is not an issue. Nexus 6, xperia z3,note 4 and almost any new phone coming out will have band 12. It’s not that big of a deal. You might want to do a little research on this.

    • former Tmo rep

      That’d be great! Too bad Verizon/ATT own the rights to and, more importantly, use those other blocks, which means other carriers cannot.

  • steveb944

    Thank goodness Alaska is on there, when I went out there cruising a few years back coverage was non existent.

  • AlumNa1

    Triads?!? WTF! T-Mobiles does business with the Asian mob and the purchase is the news and not who they bought it from? That’s crazy. Wonder how quickly we all will skim over the news of T-Mobile buying 600 MHz spectrum from ISIS or the Shinning Path.

    • Ares

      Do you have proof to this or any factual evidence or just spewing nonsense?

    • What the hell are you talking about? Triad is not a mob. Triad is just the brand name they chose back when they used to operate a Cellular network (before selling out to Western Wireless, who ran Alltel back in the days of yore). Here’s the company’s site: http://www.triad700.com/

    • JRomeo

      ISIS changed their name, they are now called “Soft Card”

  • Google is your friend

    Conan, settledown. The guy is obviously referring to Triad (search: Tria wiki) You will clearly see why the transaction is questionable to the OP. That’s a well know Asian crime syndicate that goes back a long time.

    • TSON1

      with Triad…who is unaffiliated with the gang. Much like ISIS (now Softcard) is not a terrorist organization.

      EDIT: actually wait I take that back. not a PHYSICAL terrorist organization. what they did to cripple google wallet is another story.

  • Raiterio Patterson

    Why doesn’t T-Mobile buy 700Mhz spectrum from Bluegrass Cellular???

  • FILA

    Looking forward to decent speeds on the Eastern Shore now heading to the beach! Keep building T

  • randian

    When do the TV stations have to vacate this spectrum so it’s actually usable? Seems like it’s taking way too long on that front.

    • monkeybutts

      Some time within the next 3 years I believe.

  • Mike

    I’m from the Reno area, but been living in Phoenix the last 7 years and trying to get back home so I can be close to family. This news means a lot to me, assuming they actually do the build-out.

    TMo’s coverage in northern Nevada is a joke, though not as bad as Sprint’s. In the state capital, Carson City, I go from GPRS (yes, not even EDGE!) to LTE by just driving a few miles. It makes the network useless as the phone (I currently have a TMo Note 2) keeps having to fight between radio standards and I lose calls or data. They are licensed where my dad lives, but don’t even provide coverage–instead, they rely on roaming provided by their partner CommNet aka Choice Wireless. Maybe they’ll fix this. Even in Reno there are areas within Reno and Sparks where you drop to HSPA+ or even GSM. They really need to fix this madness and do a proper deployment!

    There’s a huge amount of spectrum that lies dormant because the carriers simply refuse to build for it due to the lack of customers–this is the problem in Alaska, for the guy that mentioned lack of coverage up there, but it’s a big problem here in the West as well. This is why the licenses don’t match up with the coverage maps (even ridiculous ones like Verizon’s). Hopefully 700 MHz will help,but we’ll see…

    Finally, Cam, you really need to hit Wikipedia for your county coverage, LOL! Here’s the actual Triad coverage by county in Nevada and California (that is, real counties, not market areas):

    In Nevada:

    Washoe (Reno/Sparks and more), Carson City (state capitol), Douglas (Minden/Gardnerville, and more)–these three counties also comprise the Nevada side of Lake Tahoe–the California side was already purchased some time ago

    Storey (the Comstock!), Lyon (Fernley, Silver Springs, Dayton, Yerington), Churchill (Fallon), Pershing (Lovelock), Humboldt (Winnemucca, Imlay, etc), Elko, Lander (Austin and Battle Mountain), Eureka, and White Pine (Ely): mostly rural northern Nevada, contains Interstate-80, US Highway 50, and portions of US-95 and US-93. T-Mobile at present only covers I-80 (entire length) and US-50 east to Fallon as part of the network they purchased from Cingular when they became the AT&T we know today. And, no, it hasn’t been upgraded in all that time: it’s 100% GSM–AT&T sports HSPA (or at least HSDPA) in its area and Verizon LTE, though I hear they never upgraded the back-haul.

    In California, this can be best thought to cover the California portion of the US-395 corridor and east of the Sierras and Cascades (the Nevada part was already described above–thus this purchase covers from south of Alturas to north of Kern county near Lancaster. From south to north:

    Inyo (Bishop, Lone Pine, Independence, etc), Mono (Bridgeport), Alpine (Woodfords, Markleeville–the eastern portion of California route 88), Sierra (Sierraville and such north of Truckee), Plumas (eastern portion of CA-70 including Quincy and Portola), Lassen (Herlong, Susanville, all the way west to Chester and all of Lake Almanor but does NOT include Lassen National Park).

    I had to look at this again, but Modoc county (Alturas) is NOT included–the lower A block here is apparently owned by US Cellular, and can be found in the “unlikely to be sold” map. Considering T-Mobile offers NO service here, I could see the Lassen county chunk being sold to US Cellular, who DOES offer service here.

    Finally, one HUGE advantage: there are NO Channel 51 stations in this entire coverage area! Unlike here in Phoenix…

    • Adam

      I’m also in Northern Nevada, and my kids are constantly asking to switch to AT&T. I tell them they are lucky dad pays for their service at all. The vast majority of the people I know are on AT&T, so I assume they are the dominant carrier in Northern Nevada by a large margin. The price spread between AT&T and T-Mobile is shrinking, but it would have to be $0, to get me to switch. Personally, I am usually at home on WiFi, at a ski resort with WiFi, or in the San Francisco Bay Area, so the lack of coverage does not bother me. I would be very surprised if T-Mobile builds
      out band 12 in Northern Nevada anytime soon.

      • JaswinderSinghJammu

        What a nice Dad you are? Smile. If the kids are over 18 let them pay for switching to ATT and see how they like paying for their service.

      • Marshall

        Reno/Sparks typically has great LTE coverage. It’s when you get into the North Valleys (North of Stead) that it gets spotty. Heck, I get occassional LTE coverage in Cold Springs, but that seems to be spotty at best. Although I do my daily drive to Fernley, there is now LTE between Mustang and Derby Dam, with GPRS/EDGE in-between.

  • cashoarder

    I live in Erie, PA and can’t wait for the 700mhz to get online. I had to switch to Verizon back in January because my company moved and I had no coverage in the new building. I’m hoping that will change with the new spectrum so I can switch back. Anyone have thoughts when it might be active in the Erie market? I was hoping by March.

    • eanfoso

      Yeah not even close, if the transaction was just complete you’re looking at least until Q3 of next year to see the changes, get cricket man better than both Verizon and t mobile and way way cheaper!

      • SumYungGai

        So how much is AT&T paying for all of those astroturf accounts?

        • eanfoso

          Astroturf? What are you talking about? And we’ll considering I got 500$ when I switched well I guess 500$

      • yankeesusa

        Well, 700mhz is going up pretty quickly. In jan of this year verizon and tmo finished closing the contract on their 700mhz deal and it is now december and many cities have 700mhz. At this rate it may actually be faster than the verizon 700mhz they got.

        • eanfoso

          I certainly hope so man, I love t mobile I really want to switch back!

    • JaswinderSinghJammu

      Hope you didn’t signed a contract with Verizon?

      • Brad

        Why? T-Mo will pay it off

        • JaswinderSinghJammu

          For now Yes. You don’t know if they would end the promo

        • monkeybutts

          ETF payments won’t end till the other carriers stop doing contracts.

        • vinnyjr

          Customers like you T-Mobile doesn’t need. I would tell you to go pound sand.

        • Brad

          Um. What?

        • former Tmo rep

          Nah, he’s fine. Its people who buy 4 iPhone 6 pluses from Verizon and 4 flip phones and go “yeah I’m just gonna buy 4 alcatel one touch evolves, trading in these flip phones” that T-Mobile really doesn’t need.

  • El.

    Ughhh… -_- everyone’s getting upgraded, and I’m here in rural New Mexico still waiting for something good….

    • dontsh00tmesanta

      How’s vz, sprint and att in your area?

  • Mark Benjamin David

    QUESTION: when T-Mobile upgrades a tower to LTE band 12, does the upgrade include HSDPA+ (4G) also, for the many that don’t have phones w/band 12? Or will we only get Edge? …It’s great T-mo is upgrading to LTE, but, I just got a new phone and plan to use it for 2-3 years, it does not have LTE band 12, so, I sure as h**l hope they give us something better than GPRS or Edge without band 12!

    • Mercedes

      They are only rolling out LTE to this 700A Spectrum block.

      This doesn’t mean that is all the tower will broadcast though. They could from the same tower broadcast Band 4 LTE & HSPA+, Band 2 LTE, HSPA+ along with Edge. It just depends on what licenses are owned in your area.