More details on T-Mobile’s recent 700MHz acquisitions come out


Earlier this week, FCC filings shed some light on the 700MHz license purchases that T-Mobile teased in its Q4 2015 earnings announcement. Now some additional info on those acquisitions has come out.

An SEC filing from T-Mobile has revealed that in January 2016, T-Mo dropped $0.6 billion on spectrum licenses that cover nearly 20 million people in seven major metropolitan markets. Then in January and February 2016, Magenta dropped a cool $0.7 billion on “certain spectrum licenses” and 700MHz A Block spectrum licenses that cover around 48 million people. That’s the deal that T-Mo teased in its Q4 2015 earnings announcement earlier this month.

Here’s T-Mobile’s full statement on these spectrum deals:

“In January 2016, T-Mobile acquired spectrum licenses covering nearly 20 million people in seven major metropolitan markets for approximately $0.6 billion in cash.

“Additionally, in January and February 2016, T-Mobile entered into agreements with multiple third parties for the exchange of certain spectrum licenses and the acquisition of 700 MHz A-Block spectrum licenses covering approximately 48 million people, for approximately $0.7 billion in cash. In the first quarter of 2016, spectrum licenses to be exchanged of $0.2 billion will be transferred to held for sale and included in Other current assets. Non-cash gains are expected to be recognized upon closing of the exchange transactions, which are expected to occur in mid-2016, subject to regulatory approval and other customary closing conditions.”

Meanwhile, spectrum tracking company Allnet Insights & Analytics has compiled a map that shows T-Mobile’s current 700MHz holdings as well as the pending transactions that haven’t yet been completed.


T-Mobile has been pushing its 700MHz, aka Extended Range LTE, coverage quite heavily as part of its effort to beef up its network’s reach and improve the public’s perception of its coverage. Earlier this month, T-Mo said that its 700MHz coverage reaches 190 million people in more than 300 markets, and the acquisitions detailed today show that T-Mo isn’t slowing down with its Extended Range LTE expansion. It’ll take some time before these acquisitions turn into coverage that consumers can actually use, but this map does give us an idea of where we can expect to see upcoming 700MHz coverage rolled out.

T-Mobile has also said that it plans to go hard in the upcoming 600MHz auction, with CFO Braxton Carter suggesting that T-Mo could have up to $10 billion to spend if it needs it. Magenta plans to use the auction to buy 600MHz licenses in parts of the country that aren’t covered by 700MHz coverage as well as bolstering existing 700MHz coverage as necessary.

Sources: SEC, FierceWireless

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  • Trevnerdio

    Cavalier Wireless, save me now!

  • Daniel

    The map isn’t fully accurate as T-Mobile is not currently buying 700mhz in the Knoxville, TN area.

    • Daniel Darnell

      I also question the accuracy of this map, I’m north of Knoxville around Kingsport, TN. I’ve not heard or saw anything about them purchasing a 700 Mhz license anywhere in East TN but I could be wrong or missed that information.

      • gabmasterjcc

        I don’t know the definition of East TN, but this map is accurate so far:
        The NE corner of the state is covered.

      • Daniel Darnell

        Update! I did some digging and their is indeed a pending T-Mobile 700 Mhz transaction for the Tri-Cities, TN/VA area. AWESOME!!! 700 Mhz coverage is coming to my area this is great news.

    • gabmasterjcc

      It also doesn’t show some additional trades with US Cellular in WA and KS.

    • Daniel Darnell

      Knoxville is getting 700 Mhz from CSpire. I confirmed it last night digging around the FCC website. So yep look for 700 MHz T-Mobile coverage in Knoxville in due time!

  • Basically, Continuum and Cavalier were holding almost 40 million people hostage thanks to the FCC. There’s hardly an agency more unamerican than the FCC.

    • gabmasterjcc

      Not really. Those 40 million people had 3 other major carriers to choose from. T-Mobile could have bid to get the spectrum themselves initially. T-Mobile also has other spectrum that covered most if not all of those people already. T-Mobile also could have partnered with another company for many of those areas. In many ways this worked out well for T-Mobile as they wouldn’t have been able to expand into 700 MHz nationwide all at once.

      All of those things would have been more expensive for T-Mobile as low band spectrum is actually a cheap way to extend coverage quickly as fewer towers and less equipment is needed. Continuum and Cavalier saw an opportunity where spectrum was being sold at a price below its eventual value. They bought it up and it has always been for sale to the highest bidder. They didn’t hold on to it indefinitely. The FCC did nothing wrong here. They actually did the “American” thing by letting the free market take care of things. It has worked out pretty well. A nationwide deployment probably couldn’t have happened much faster than T-Mobile has done so far. Here’s to hoping the continue the pace into the new areas.

      • Zacamandapio

        I guess that where Augustine is coming from is that these companies are not using them. I may be mistaken.
        But they just buy the spectrum to re-sell it. I think.

        • gabmasterjcc

          I agree with what you are saying. “holding almost 40 million people hostage” isn’t just an exaggeration of the situation, but an outright falsehood. My guess is that if Continuum and Cavalier didn’t get the spectrum in the first place, it wouldn’t have wound up in T-Mobile hands. More likely underutilized by one of the other 3 majors. I don’t think T-Mobile purchased any of it at auction. While I am rooting for T-Mobile to have the same type of overall network coverage as Verizon and AT&T and believe they provide a much needed value option in the market, hatred of Cavalier and Continuum is much too high. It is rooted in a fanboy type response to the situation, not in any real wrongdoing. I doubt T-Mobile wanted to invest the cash during the auction to buy the spectrum due to giant For Sale sign on the front door at the time. The situation worked out well for them as they didn’t have to front the money, could wait until they could afford it, and wound up with it in the end.

  • vinnyjr

    T-Mobile Low Band will be everywhere very soon. Amazing how fast they are rolling it out.

    • Fabian Cortez

      Exactly. And then there’s avother carrier out there with near nationwide 14 MHz of lowband that is having issues and won’t expand past 270 million POPs.

      It’s quite shocking on both fronts.

      • donnybee

        What carrier are you talking about?

        • Hector Arteaga

          Sprint. B26 800Mhz.

        • Hector Arteaga

          It’s such a waste. They could truly have an incredible network. If they rolled out B26 everywhere (American Towers are available – former Verizon towers) and used B25 and B41 for capacity. They could truly have the best network, but mismanagement at Sprint is stupid. Maybe one day Tmo will be able to buy them out. Competition is great! I fear Sprint won’t survive it.

        • donnybee

          Oh haha I didn’t pick up the clue that it was Sprint. Yeah, I never knew why they didn’t activate all their low band. They’ve had it for a long time now. In fact, from what I’ve seen of their spectrum holdings, I’d say they have the best portfolio. I would say that’s the only value sprint has.. They don’t turn a profit from their customers, so that could be a negative asset, they don’t own many towers anymore, they don’t test emerging tech – aside from carrier aggregation, but I’d hardly call that emerging – and the Sprint name brand is decreasing steadily in worth that just hurts their recognition. I’ve been hoping for a while now that they attempt to sell spectrum holdings to stay afloat.

        • Aaron

          Buy out Sprint and US Cellular

  • KingCobra

    Looks like T-Mobile was still unable to gain the 700 MHz from Cavalier in Charlotte.

    • maximus1901

      us cellular buying it.

  • Sushimane

    What is this .7 billion? Lol is it 7 billion

    • Derek Mounce

      think it’s 700 million

      • Sushimane

        I thought it would be 700 million but it said. .7billion lol but whatever good for everyone

    • Jefski

      700 mil

    • Hades

      That is the metrication of fiat currency. We’ll no longer see “half a billion” or “two thirds of a billion”, instead .5 billion and .66 of a billion.

      The end is near.

      • donnybee

        I think it’s odd we’ve transitioned to referring to billions instead of millions now. It could have easily been 700 million, but .7 billion somehow fits the mindset of our current state.

        A little sad, I won’t lie.

  • Derek Mounce

    I am sooooooo excited cause my part of KY is finally getting some 700Mhz love from T-Mobile :-D
    Does anyone know how much is being bought thou? 5×5 or what?

    • Fabian Cortez

      12 MHz.

      • Which only fits 5+5 MHz.

        • Dave

          5+5 is 10, not 12.

        • LTE can only use channels 1.4, 3, 5, 10, 15 and 20 MHz wide each way.

    • Dylan Gorski

      Me too! I can’t wait! I travel all over Kentucky regularly and can’t wait to get this 700mhz everywhere! Especially since it covers almost all of Kentucky!

  • Uri

    I see everybody’s getting 700Mhz & extended LTE everywhere but there’s one City doesn’t get nothing being one of the biggest Metropolitan markets is CHICAGO IL THAT F**KING SUCKS!

    • Nerd_Baller

      I heard the reason they haven’t bought Chicago license was because all the tower antennae workers are scared they’ll get shot placing new arrays in Chicago /s

      • 9to5Slavery

        More of “windy weather” death from tower .

    • Mark

      If it’s like Maine, where I am, the 700 MHz bands are owned by US Cellular, or they were before USC pulled out of Chicago. I’m not sure who might have gotten them.

      • Aaron

        Then they should by US Cellular. That would be great for me in Eastern NC.

    • gadget_hero

      Actually the Chicago A block 700MHz was owned by Leap (parent company of Cricket), they have to sell it as part of the Leap takeover (by AT&T) so it will be up to T-Mobile to buy it. I know that Cspire divested Memphis’s A block 700MHz to Sprint (I can see a PCS/A block swap in their future).

  • Joe

    Tmobile can’t beat the other three on prices if they keep spending money like this. Expect Tmobile to raise rates eventually. They have to in order to stay in business if they spend up to 10 billion on bandwidth.

    • Hiro

      Hopefully that isn’t a complaint about them spending money to improve coverage for everyone… lol

    • donnybee

      Well, seeing as the only steady complaint heard here on a guaranteed basis was coverage, it’s hardly an argument to say it’s not worth it now if prices go up.

      I agree, I think prices will continue to go up, but they compete in services per dollar better than any other carrier still. No other carrier will ever be able to beat T-Mobile with standard included services and benefits. Even if T-Mobile ever reached the same price of the big two, which I don’t really see happening, they will still have the best overall value.

    • Mercedes

      On the contrary, this will actually save them money in the long run as these towers allow them to to have 1 tower versus 3 PCS towers to coverage the same area. I saw a report that actually showed T-Mobile has as many if not more towers than Verizon, it’s just until the last two years with this low band spectrum they finally begun purchasing, they required more towers to be placed for the same coverage, which made deploying in rural areas unfeasible.

      With having just as many towers, meaning just as much overhead, they’ve been offering lower costs with half the number of customers. If getting this spectrum lowers future costs or enables cheaper expansion allowing customer growth, then it should work out in the long run beating the other 3 on prices.

  • Hiro

    Glad to finally be getting it in my little corner of SW Florida! Woohoo! haha

    • Bradley Karas

      They need to do a statewide launch!!! Still areas in Tampa Bay not fully operational

  • Nerd_Baller

    I’m reading that they are doing a short term lease in order to ‘own’ the spectrum as fast as possible. They did this with the Continuum spectrum in Salt Lake City. What’s the earliest they could get 700mhz panels up and going in this scenario? Technically they don’t have to wait for the FCC as it’s a short term lease pending spectrum transfer.

    • Tanner

      I was wondering the same thing. Hope we see it launched in the next couple months.

    • maximus1901

      6 months according to people smarter than I.

  • Eric

    Looks like they have most of Louisiana covered!:)

    • StevenM

      It is substantially better, but not there yet. If there is a particular area you want to know about, let me know.

      • Eric

        From Anacoco, LA to Fort Polk, LA

        • StevenM

          That’s one of the few places I haven’t been. It looks like Anacoco just got 700mhz extended range LTE so coverage should be great in and around Anacoco. You would need a Band 12 capable phone for this coverage. IPhone 6s or 6s plus or most Android devices. Looks anemic down towards Fort Polk. I know Many just got 700mhz and coverage is decent there now too.

        • Eric

          I have been noticing a difference I currently have the note 4.I still have band 4 5mhz.We had just got band 12 5mhz a few days ago but on Fort Polk just 4g but it’s pretty fast.I think if they would put band 12 in Leesville, LA.The Fort Polk area would be covered.Currently they just have band 4 5mhz.

  • dking2063

    These coverage maps are BS. Tmo is good in the bigger cities where there are lots of paying customers. But when I drive cross country Tmo has terrible coverage for smartphone apps that use any Internet

    • maximus1901

      you answered your own question
      “where there are lots of paying customers.”

    • These are not coverage maps, but license maps.

  • Bradley Karas

    Now launch it all for Christ sake!!! Still lots of areas that they own spectrum in that they haven’t launched or partial launches like in Tampa where they say they are covered but only in certain spots already covered by band 4

    • maximus1901

      tmo is not verizon: it’s barely making profit and spending all it can.
      It has like $25bil in debt.

      • Bradley Karas

        Having debt does not equal no profit!

        • Dustin Roe

          Read the EOY report, they generated $8B in EBITA (Operational P&L before taxes and interest) and reinvested all but $125M back into growth(Capitol). hence barely made any profit.

  • Mike T

    Any idea what might happen and when in Northwest NC? (Mount Airy / Wilkesboro)

    • Troy

      Part of it is in process but part of that area is not approved because of CH 51.

      Mount Airy is in the full area of Ch 51 but Wilkesboro is partly.

      Greensboro-Winston-Salem-High Point, NC-VA (partitioned)


      To be acquired from Cavalier pending FCC approval.

    • maximus1901

      http://ae2.spectrumgateway com/t-mobile-700-mhz-spectrum.html

      It’s owned by tmo but covered up temporarily by the ch51 protection zone.

    • Chad Dalton

      wow lil ole davie county could possibly see 700 MHZ


    Chicago area, please.

    • Lance

      I was just about to say that I hope this means I can actually get a data signal in my office on the mag mile. Guess not though.

    • Mercedes

      That is owned by Leap Wireless, who was baught up by AT&T. I believe I remember reading that AT&T was required to sell it as part of the purchase, but I’m sure they had some time so they are likely sitting on it as long as possible. Or T-Mobile is waiting to buy until its the right price. Either way, I think it is just a matter of time.

  • Fake Name

    Looks like T-mobile and Wyoming doesn’t get along LoL

    • Timothy Hutz

      T-mobile probably has a non-compete with Union Wireless who services most of WY and Northern CO in the mountains. They may not be allowed to build out in WY. By the way WY is VERY rural and only has 563 thousand people compared to CO who has 5 million people so its probably not worth building out there anyways.

      • Dustin Roe

        for a national footprint you have to cover not just the homes of the customers but also where they travel to. When you were looking at only serving a regional group then it made sense to have dead areas like Wyoming, now they cannot afford to especially around the major routes and destinations like yellowstone.

  • mallard1967

    To bad T-Mobile can’t see here in freedom ny 14065 all the customer they are not gaining all because they refuse to add a few extra towers they are on the outskirts now and by not adding a few more towers to this area Is now only serviced by Verizon and AT&T and if we the folks here could get good coverage not crappy T-Mobile cell there are so many unhappy verizon and AT&T customer who would switch to t-mobile if available tomorrow only wish the higher up t-mobile folks could see the great opportunity they are now passing up

    • Deckhand

      You have a population of 1896…

      • 9to5Slavery


  • Desmond Foucha

    Has anyone been seeing band 12 POPS in New Orleans Area

  • emcdonald75

    If it wasn’t for the upcoming Incentive Auction (600MHz), things would have played out like this: T-Mobile buys U.S. Cellular, Sprint goes defunct and T-Mobile obtains all of Sprint’s Bands 26 and PCS spectrum; then there would have been PCS spectrum swaps between Verizon and AT&T for spectral efficiency. Verizon gets all of the Sprint’s 2.5GHz spectrum. With 3 National Carriers, instead of 4, Soft Bank would now own T-Mobile. Lol. I am just kidding. But it seems weirdly plausible.

  • SirStephenH

    I’d just like them to fill in the gaps in Washington, Oregon, California, and Idaho…

  • Roger Sales

    Instead of Who Shot Jr, the T-Mo fans are gonna be wondering “who bought Charlotte and Greensboro 700A?”

  • Patrick McLaughlin

    Any idea if Boise or southern Idaho will ever see Band 12?

  • Josh Clark

    I hope they get 700mhz in Maine, they sure need low band here. Buy it from US Cellular or Dish. Dish is just sitting on it.