T-Mobile walked away from the FCC’s spectrum auction last week as the top bidder and more than 1,500 new spectrum licenses. And the Un-carrier is chomping at the bit to put those to good use.
Not one to waste a boatload of cash (or $7.99 billion, to be exact) on latent assets, T-Mobile execs indicated they’re already gearing up for a “record-breaking” deployment of its new 600 MHz airwaves.
“T-Mobile’s network is already the fastest, most advanced in the country, and this will take it to a whole new level – and we’ll do it FAST,” T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray commented. “Our team has a history of deploying network technologies at record-breaking pace – including the fastest recorded LTE deployment in US history. We’re ready to break records again on 600 MHz.”
As detailed in the FCC’s spectrum auction closing announcement, T-Mobile exited the proceedings with some 1,525 licenses that blanket the nation. And a map from Mosaik shows T-Mobile managed to snag 40 MHz of spectrum across broad swaths of the country, as well as at least 20 MHz in key markets like the New York City metro area and major West Coast metro areas around Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego.
The Un-carrier indicated its winnings cover more than one million square miles where T-Mobile expects at least 10 MHz of 600 MHz spectrum to be clear this year – and it won’t hesitate in lighting up those airwaves as soon as possible.
According to T-Mobile, some of that spectrum will be put online as early as this year, to the benefit of both T-Mobile and MetroPCS customers. The Un-carrier said work on these early deployments started last year.
Those comments likely refer to T-Mobile’s agreement with broadcast equipment company Electronics Research Inc. (ERI), which was announced this time last year. As part of the partnership, ERI was slated to begin production of new antennas and agreed to make installation crews available immediately after the close of the FCC’s auction proceedings to facilitate the repacking transition. ERI indicated the deal would give it the ability to ramp materials and accelerate antenna production capacity by 800 percent before the end of 2016 in anticipation of the end of the auction.
“It’s a no-brainer for T-Mobile to do what we can to help the broadcast industry accelerate the FCC’s repacking schedule,” T-Mobile Technology SVP David Mayo said at the time. “We want to insure that television broadcasters have access to the equipment and installation capacity needed for timely completion of the FCC clearing timeline.”
T-Mobile said its own deployments will be supported by infrastructure providers like Nokia and Ericsson, which both recently announced 600 MHz equipment will be made available this year. Additionally, Qualcomm earlier this month indicated it is working to enable “early launches of 600 MHz-capable 4G multimode/multiband devices,” but gave no dates. T-Mobile, however, indicated “leading smartphone makers” are expected to deliver 600 MHz compatible phones as soon as this year.
T-Mobile on Wednesday declined to comment further on how broadcaster repacking schedules will impact its deployment timelines and what kinds of technologies – like Voice-over-LTE and carrier aggregation – it is planning to use on the 600 MHz band. More detail on the topic, however, is expected to come during the carrier’s first quarter earnings call, a spokeswoman said.
Filed Under: Telecommunications (Spectrum)