T-Mobile emerges as big spender in FCC 24GHz and 28GHz spectrum auctions


The FCC today announced the results of its 24GHz and 28GHz spectrum auctions, and T-Mobile was among the big spenders.

When it comes to the 28GHz auction, T-Mobile bought 865 licenses in 864 markets for total of $39,288,450. The 24GHz auction saw T-Mobile score 1,346 licenses and 400 partial economic areas (PEAs) for a total of $803,212,025.

Another notable player in this auction was AT&T, who dropped a cool $982,468,996 on 831 licenses for 24GHz spectrum. The FCC’s website has all the documents related to the auction, and you can check out the full results for the 24GHz auction and the 28GHz auction.

T-Mobile bought itself lots of 600MHz spectrum from a previous FCC auction, and now the carrier is stocking up on millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum. We know that T-Mo is using mmWave for its 5G network, so it’s no surprise to see the company taking advantage of the FCC auction to gather more mmWave licenses.

Thanks, Tin!

Sources: FCC (1), (2)

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  • Steven

    Now does this need new phones to handle it, or is this a signal our current phones can handle and will get the benefit once rolled out? Also, does this conflict with any other signals like TV that require long, slow, relocation processes?

    • MisterListerSir

      New phones are required to connect to mmWave unless you just bought a 5G device and chances are that landscape will change dramatically over the next year or two. I would honestly recommend not buying into 5G devices until 2020 when their networks and bands have solidified and the tech has been tested and proven.

      • Robert Roll

        kind of the like the Galaxy S10 5G only supports 5G on mmWave and nothing on Sub 6ghz frequencies aka T-Mobiles 600mhz spectrum and should the merger happen Sprints 2.5Ghz spectrum.

        • MisterListerSir


        • Robert Roll

          wait for the Qualcomm x55 modem (or its equiv from a competitor) which should be the 2020 phones which will support both mmWave and Sub 6ghz for 5G as well as LTE …the Galaxy S10 5G has the X50 modem .. i live in a rural area mmWave will do me no good anyway

        • MisterListerSir

          which should be the 2020 phones

          Read my original post. :)

        • slybacon

          The next version of the S10 will support 600 Mhz and 2.5 Ghz later this year with the X55 modem from Qualcomm.

      • riverhorse

        Ditto (especially if one’s a road warrior) or even later by the time deployment is widespread. Who knows what unforeseen will pop up. Very few projects are immune from serious delays.
        We have as examples previous band rollouts.

    • Tim Hotze

      Although there’s a couple phones on the market that work at these frequencies, T-Mobile doesn’t sell any of them. These frequencies should be free of other interference, though, and will be ready to roll as soon as TMo sets them up and sells phones that can work.

      T-Mobile hasn’t fully fleshed out its 5G plans publicly (probably waiting for a final decision on the merger with Sprint), but it’ll be a combination of lower frequency (600MHz) signals that they bought in previous auctions to provide long-range coverage at lower speeds, high frequencies like this to provide faster speeds (but at shorter distances, and where obstacles like buildings, trees or rain can get in the way), and possibly “middle range” frequencies around 1.7GHz which they hope to get from the Sprint merger to balance out between the two.

      It’s possible that devices that support the entire range will be available later this year or early next, but there’s a good chance it’ll be a couple years before the network is widely deployed and most new phones can take advantage of them.

      • riverhorse

        Great post.

  • Jay Holm

    So none of thes licenses are nationwide?

    • Tim Hotze

      There’s no such thing as “nationwide” spectrum in these auctions. T-Mobile did buy blocks across the country, so yes, it now has nationwide spectrum for mmWave.

      • Jay Holm

        The 600 Band 71 licenses are nationwide.

        • slybacon

          They are broken down into smaller areas instead of one big area and Tmo bought some in all areas, that’s why they call it nationwide.

  • Sharti24

    Why waste money on buying this kind of spectrum in rural areas like MT and ND? Just don’t bid on it

    • Daniel

      Because it can also be used for microwave backhaul in rural areas

  • slybacon

    24 GHz and 28 GHz auction links are backwards of each other. Switch the link names!

  • riverhorse

    Why is that huge area of the Gulf of Mexico colored in?
    Do we get service that way out in open sea?

    • Joe

      It just means they have the legal right to deploy a tower using the spectrum they purchased in that location. But there is no signal there since there are no towers there

      • riverhorse

        Thanks. Lone Ranger to the rescue! I thought Gulf of Mexico was off limits, licensed to signal providers to the oil rigs. Andor not allowed to beam signal into international waters.

  • steveb944

    It’s all relative because it looks like a lot, but AT&T spent a small fortune.