News

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.
 
 
New York:
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.
 
 
Miami:
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.
 
 
Detroit:
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.
 
  
Orlando:
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.
 
 
Cleveland:
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.
 
 
San Diego:
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.
 
 
Portland:
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.
 

Assessing the COVID Temporary Spectrum Licenses March 31, 2020 15:28

Last week we began to see announcements from the FCC authorizing a series of temporary spectrum usage agreements to provide additional spectrum to several of the wireless operators to increase network capacity as workers are dispatched to their homes.

We will look at the effect of these agreements in a few markets to see how they are increasing LTE capacity.  The analysis will be supported with outputs from our Mobile Carrier - Spectrum Ownership Analysis Tool  specifically the Spectrum Ownership Grid.

T-Mobile 600MHz Capacity Expansion:

The first agreement provides T-Mobile with access to 600MHz spectrum from Bluewater Wireless, Channel 51 LIcense Co and LB License Co (Columbia Capital), CC Wireless Investment (Comcast), ParketB.com Wireless (Dish), New Level (Grain), and Tstar License Holdings (Tri-Star).

In the image below for the New York CMA market, T-Mobile will have access to Comcast's spectrum (XFI) and Dish's spectrum increasing their 600MHz channel size in New York from 10MHz channel to a 20MHz channel.  T-Mobile would have access to the entire 35MHz of spectrum so they could provide a 20MHz channel and a 10MHz channel for capacity.   Because T-Mobile has already deployed Band 71 equipment in New York, they can turn up the expanded spectrum without additional equipment installations.

 

USCellular AWS-3 Capacity Expansion:

The next agreement provides USCellular access to AWS-3 spectrum from their bidding partner Advantage Spectrum.  In the image below a few of the Washington markets where USCellular will access AWS-3 spectrum are indicated.  In most of these markets, USCellular currently operates on their cellular frequencies but doesn't have Band 66 operations.Thus,  USCellular will need to add base stations and antennas to their sites for Band 66 to utilize these new frequencies.  In five of these counties USCellular is likely operating on AWS-1 spectrum in Band 66 so the spectrum will be easier to deploy in those counties. 

 

Verizon AWS-3 Capacity Expansion:

In the image below we illustrate the AWS-3 spectrum that Verizon will gain temporary access from SNR License Co and Northstar Wireless (both Dish partners).  Northstar controls the AWS-3 G channel and SNR LIcense Co controls the AWS-3 H channel.  In the New York market, Northstar Wireless owns the G block spectrum and SNR Wireless owns the H block spectrum.  Accessing this spectrum will provide Verizon a second Band 66 LTE channel, increasing their LTE capacity from 20MHz to 30MHz.

 

Verizon & AT&T AWS-3 Capacity Expansion:

Verizon and AT&T have also requested access to the spectrum that Northstar Wireless and SNR Wireless returned to the FCC when their auction discounts were eliminated.  The AWS-3 spectrum depth that is "unassigned" is indicated in the map below.  In our data, we reflect these unassigned licenses with the FCC heading.

 

AT&T requested the I block spectrum in the New York market, so it will expand their Band 66 LTE from 10MHz to 15MHz.  The markets AT&T requested are listed here and the markets that Verizon requested are here.

 

AT&T AWS-4 Capacity Expansion:

AT&T has also requested access to Dish's Band 66 spectrum.  From the image above AT&T can expand their Band 66 LTE by and additional 5MHz to 20MHz by using part of Dish's AWS-4 spectrum.  AT&T will still have an additional 15MHz of Dish's spectrum that they could use as an additional LTE channel in New York.  AT&T only requested access to Dish's Band 66 spectrum, not their Band 70 AWS-4 spectrum.

AT&T 700MHz E-block Expansion:

Dish also reported that AT&T requested access the the 700MHz E-block in the markets that AT&T doesn't own.  In the image below, Dish's ownership in Chicago and Detroit will provide AT&T the capability to expand their Band 29 supplemental downlink from 5MHz to 10MHz.