T-Mobile's 600MHz Spectrum Leases - More work still needs to be done September 22, 2020 08:54
Last week, T-Mobile filed to lease 200 of Dish's 600MHz licenses after receiving Department of Justice (DOJ) approval for the leasing terms. We are going to examine how these new leases will impact T-Mobile 600MHz network and identify the markets where work will need to continue on T-Mobile's part to consolidate their available 600MHz spectrum into a contiguous block for LTE, 5G, or both. To start this analysis, we are going to look at the new T-Mobile leases for spectrum in the Top 20 Partial Economic Area Markets.
In the New York market, T-Mobile will add the D block to their spectrum portfolio. In the image below from our Web Spectrum Viewer, you can see the D block still in Dish's control with our Future Holdings dataset. As a reminder, our tools enable users to select to see either Licensed Holdings, Current Holdings, or Future Holdings in the Spectrum Ownership Grid. Licensed Holdings reflects the carrier that directly owns that spectrum license, Current Holdings reflects either the current license owner or the long term lessee if the spectrum license is leased. Future Holdings reflects the current operator of the license unless there is a pending assignment (acquisition) or a pending lease filed with the FCC for that particular license. Since these T-Mobile leases were just filed, they will be rolled into our end of month update so after October 5th, the D block in this Future Holdings view will reflect TMO instead of DSH, but the Current Holdings will reflect DSH until the lease is finalized. Now back to the effects on T-Mobile's network: Dish's D block will allow T-Mobile to increase their LTE/NR channel size from 10 MHz to 15 MHz in all 28 counties included in the New York PEA market.
It is also interesting to note that Comcast's A block in New York, is being leased by Charter. This new lease application was also filed last week. You can get access to these weekly spectrum transactions by subscribing to our Weekly Spectrum Transaction Summary.
In Miami, the effect of T-Mobile leasing the F block is straightforward, It will increase T-Mobile's LTE/NR channel size from 15 MHz to 20 MHz.
In Detroit, T-Mobile already controls 15 MHz of spectrum but the F block they are leasing from Dish is separated by the D block that Comcast (XFI) owns. If T-Mobile actually owned the spectrum it would be relatively easy for Comcast and T-Mobile to exchange the F block for the E block, but with Dish owning the license, that exchange would have to be initiated between Dish and Comcast.
In Orlando, T-Mobile faces a similar challenge preventing them from utilizing the entire 15 MHz that they will control in the market. This would need to be another trade between Dish and Comcast.
In Cleveland, Dish's F block is again separated from T-Mobile's core 15 MHz holdings by a 5 MHz channel owned by Grain Management. In this market T-Mobile will need Dish and Grain to agree to swap spectrum licenses so they can fully utilize the 20 MHz of spectrum they will have in this market.
In San Diego, T-Mobile will immediately be able to expand their 15 MHz LTE/NR channel to 20 MHz with Dish's F block channel.
In Portland T-Mobile has another opportunity for Dish and Comcast to trade spectrum licenses. The most logical exchange may actually be for Dish to trade their G block channel for Comcast's E block, so they still control 10 MHz of contiguous spectrum if they cancel T-Mobile's lease. If this exchange took place T-Mobile could increase its channel size from 10 MHz to 15 MHz.