FCC approves T-Mobile-Verizon spectrum swap despite Sirius XM objection


Earlier this year, Verizon and T-Mobile entered into an agreement to swap some AWS and PCS spectrum licenses. Radio provider Sirius objected the swap, saying that T-Mobile’s AWS cell sites were causing interference for its subscribers in some large markets, but today the FCC shot down that objection.

In a decision released today, the FCC explained that Sirius did not provide sufficient evidence that Verizon and T-Mobile’s spectrum swap would cause Sirius harm and that the company didn’t provide any kind of alternate solution. When arguing against Sirius’s objection, T-Mobile said that the interference is Sirius’s problem and that it’s using its spectrum according to regulations, so Sirius is the one that needs to deal with its receivers if they’re having issues. T-Mobile also said that the AWS licenses that it’s getting from Verizon are not in the same areas that Sirius is experiencing interference.

In the end, the FCC said that Sirius’s objection would not be considered in the review of the Verizon-T-Mobile swap, and so it approved the deal. However, the FCC did tell Sirius that it could fight the issue with T-Mobile’s airwaves in a separate filing. Sirius XM spokesman Patrick Reilly told the Wall Street Journal that his company is “working constructively” on the problem but that it may pursue “other avenues” if the two can’t reach a solution. T-Mobile declined to comment on the matter.

Usually when we’re talking T-Mobile and Verizon, the two are taking shots at one another, but the two carriers were able to come together to fight against Sirius’s claims on this matter. Now they can go ahead and make their spectrum swap and T-Mobile can use its new AWS licenses to continue to beef up its network.

If you’d like to read the FCC’s full decision for yourself, hit up the FCC link below.

Via: RedditWSJ
Source: FCC

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  • Hard to take Sirius seriously. As long as T-Mobile uses the spectrum as granted by the FCC, it is indeed Sirius’ problem. It may be the case of a few defective tower radios, but then the solution is to simply repair them, not blocking a spectrum swap in other unrelated areas. I suspect that Sirius screwed up its own design and is finding issues that field testing didn’t reveal during its development. It might not just be trying to shift dump its problems on someone else, for the alternative is replacing its satellites in orbit and millions of units of user equipment.

    • Fabian Cortez

      SiriusXM’s spectrum has been in use prior to cellular broadcasts in AWS-1.

      It’s quite possible that LTE in larger contiguous blocks is causing interference with their signals. Whereas the government agencies prior to the AWS-1 auction caused no interference and even T-Mobile later on with HSPA and smaller LTE carriers.

      But like T-Movile stated, they are using their spectrum within the guidelines set by the FCC.

      This almost seems like an FCC and SiriusXM issue. An oversight by the FCC with respect to the foreshadowing of future technology and its ramifications.

      • Perhaps, but then it wouldn’t be just T-Mobile, but also other operators in AWS1, like Verizon and ATT. It wouldn’t be only in some areas and not in others either, assuming that Sirius operates in only one frequency. So it sounds petty to single T-Mobile out for Sirius’ problems.

        What might as well be happening is that, since satellite signals are quite weak, neighboring frequencies flood the Sirius receivers and drown the satellite signal into noise levels.

        I actually think that it’s just Sirius’ problem. It should use a more resilient modulation. Hopefully, its satellites and receivers have software radios, otherwise replacing hardware might bankrupt Sirius.

        • Fabian Cortez

          Perhaps, but then it wouldn’t be just T-Mobile, but also other operators in AWS1, like Verizon and ATT. It wouldn’t be only in some areas and not in others either, assuming that Sirius operates in only one frequency. So it sounds petty to single T-Mobile out for Sirius’ problems.

          Remember that there are different blocks within AWS-1 and that T-Mobile owns nationwide AWS-1 in certain blocks.

          In other words: No other carrier would be faulted as they don’t own those blocks.

        • There are satellite bands at 2025-2110MHz and at 2180-2200MHz around the downstream AWS1 band. However, Sirius uses the band at 2320-2345MHz, far away from any spectrum licensed by TMUS, but in between the WCS bands licensed by ATT.

          It seems that Sirius complaint was about intermodulation interference with its signal, when it could come not only from any AWS1 band, but also from any carrier operating in this and other bands. Then, why would it object to an AWS1 channel swap? For intermodulation interference doesn’t depend on which channel in AWS-1 is causing it. It could come from the current channel used by TMUS or the one by VZW. So, why would TMUS occupying a different channel be a problem, but not VZW remaining in it? It’s not like red AWS1 airwaves are better than magenta.

          Or perhaps, maybe they are. After all, TMUS, unlike other carriers, provides unlimited music streaming ubiquitously, much like Sirius, thereby threatening the latter’s much more expensive business model.

    • Philip

      I thought Sirius is satellite radio? They use tower? The audio on Sirius is not that great. Better than AM but sound hallow on FM. My Tunein Radio sound great! In fact, I only listen on my local radio station thru Tunein App because it sound so much better.

  • Cam Fas

    So can the fcc approve the sale of the 700mhz spectrum here in Las Vegas? Serivice has fluctuated out here lately the same thing happened when they moved from 10+10 up to 15+15 and again when moving to 20+20 that we now have. Also quite a few toweres lately have seemed like they have increased backhaul. I wonder if they are prepping the towers early in anticipation for the fcc approval.

  • Sushimane

    What’s was and pcs bands are verizon and t mobile swapping for?

  • Jesus Rosales

    Can anyone explain why they are doing this?

    • SirStephenH

      They’re swapping an equal number of licenses that will give them both larger consecutive blocks of spectrum. This will allow for greater speeds.

    • steven berson

      They both need each other spectrum. Its a win-win for them both.

    • Joseph Cathey

      Think of it like monopoly. I have 2 blue properties and 1 red; you have 2 red properties and 1 blue. If you give me your blue and I give you my red, we consolidate our holdings to make one much more valuable piece of property. We both win.

    • kpb321

      Short answer is that it benefits both of them. Long answer is there are several reasons.

      1) They might be trading stuff in one location for stuff in another location of roughly equivalent value. For example tmobile might have 70 mhz at location A and 50 mhz at location B and Verizion has the opposite. By t-mobile trading 10mhz in Location A for 10 MHZ from Verizion in location B they both end up with 60mhz in both locations. More balanced coverage for both of them.

      2) They might be trading in the same location to get bigger groups. The bands are labeled and T-mobile might have A C & E in one location and Verizon might have B and D in that location. If t-mobile trades E for B then they both still have the same amount of spectrum they started with but it is two big blocks instead of 5 little ones (t-mobile has ABC and Verizon has DE) and the big blocks are much more useful. (some of the bands are actually different sizes but I’m ignoring that for now and assuming they are all the same size for this example)

      3) They might be trading 1 type for the other. Trading “extra” AWS for PCS to better match how they want to do things.

      4) The trades might not be perfectly even and one company might be throwing some money into the mix too.

      5) Some combination of all of the above but the ultimate goal is that it is a win win situation and both sides end up better off because of the trades with more balanced spectrum and larger blocks of spectrum.

  • CasperTFG

    Speaking of T-Mobile, where the hell is their new app??


    • Joe Hartley

      It’s not being released before January or February.

      • CasperTFG


  • Steven

    What markets are these spectrum swaps in? I’d love to know what areas T-Mobile acquired.

    • Cam Fas

      Spectrum was swapped in parts of Arkansas, California, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee and Virginia.

      • Jay J. Blanco


      • Joe Hartley

        Do you know what part of Kentucky?

        • Cam Fas

          Unfortunately I don’t know I copied and pasted the markets from fierce wireless they were the only ones that had the markets posted that I could find.

      • Jay Holm

        No spectrum gains in Texas?

  • Paul

    I’m in Dallas Texas and have T-Mobile and XM. I have not experienced any problems with either.

  • Cole

    What spectrums were swapped?

  • mike

    So what exactly does this mean, can this new spectrum be used/deployed nationwide or will this be available only to select locations? Tmobile is still in need of improving indoor coverage in many major cities (buildings and homes). There are still many locations were band-12 would address the issue but it is non existent yet.

  • vinnyjr

    T-Mobile is constantly improving their Network. Blows me away how far T-Mobile has come in a very short time. Their LTE Network is growing faster than any other US Carrier, T-Mobile will have very close to AT&T coverage very soon and much faster. Thank You T-Mobile, Thank You John Legere.

    • Mike

      Yeah they made some improvements overall but still have quite a long way to go. Scary when you are in a major city and have no service indoors or get an un-usable EDGE connection. People don’t even know what edge is anymore! Even third world countries have at least 3G GSM networks!

  • steveb944

    Maybe this XM issue explains why the service cuts out at times. Go figure.