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Spectrum Blog

How do the Auction 108 results affect 2.5GHz spectrum pricing? Fri, Sep 23, 2022

Since the auction results were posted on September 1st, there have been many discussions about how the purchase prices from the auction relate to the secondary market pricing.

Typically, when you are buying a spectrum license you are getting a contagious block of spectrum covering a complete geographical area, like a county or a group of counties. By purchasing a particular license, the owner knows that a wireless network can be designed to provide coverage to the entire market area, meaning the market area’s population can be provided with a revenue generating service.

What is the appropriate price for a license? After an auction, you will typically see a valuation ($/MHz-POP) from the auction that represents the national average price. Prices are calculated by multiplying the size of the spectrum (MHz) by the population (POP) available in the license area. The purchase price in dollars is then divided by the MHz-POPs quantity for the license. Highly populated markets or counties are purchased at a premium compared to the national average price and the lower populated markets are purchased at a discount to the national average price. Below is an example of this pricing range from the CBRS (Auction 105).

CBRS Auction Pricing:

Market Population (2021) $/MHz-POP
Kings County, NY 2,641,052 $1.22
Scott County, MN 153,268 $0.48
National Average $0.21
Crowley County, CO 6,012 $0.17

 

With this spectrum license value framework in place, let’s look at four types of licenses that were available in Auction 108 and how their purchase price (bid) and valuation compared.  In each of these examples we provide outputs from our EBS Auction Tool which more clearly indicates what the licenses include and does not include.  The Population % chart indicates the percentage of the total county population that can be served by each subchannel of the auction channel.  The Population chart indicates the raw population that is available in the license areas for each subchannel of the auction channel.  The whitespace maps indicate the available whitespace license area.

Complete County - Benzie, MI:

The Benzie County C1 license (49.5MHz) provides the winning bidder with the opportunity to provide roughly a 50MHz channel of wireless service to all of the people living in Benzie County.  Because there aren't any encumbrances, the auction valuation is probably valid for this license.

County Whitespace Population % by Subchannel:

County Whitespace Population by Subchannel:

County Whitespace Map:

Auction License Valuation:

Encumbered County - Los Angeles, CA:

The Los Angeles County C1 license provides the auction winner with the rights to service about 136,000 people with wireless service using the full 49.5MHz of spectrum. The served population is at the northern and southern extremes of the county. An addition 210,000 people can be served with only the B channels in the area directly below the Ventura county line.  These are the only areas that the bidder can construct a wireless network using these channel.  This license sold for the minimum bid price, which was based primarily on the full county population not the available whitespace population.  I would not view this as a valid license valuation.

County Whitespace Population % by Subchannel:

County Whitespace Population by Subchannel:

County Whitespace Map (A channels):

 County Whitespace Map (C channels):

Auction License Valuation:

 

No Population County - Cameron, TX:

The Cameron County C1 license only covers a rural unpopulated area of South Padre Island.  This license was purchased for the minimum bid price and its valuation can not be calculated.

County Whitespace Population % by Subchannel:

County Whitespace Population by Subchannel:

County Whitespace Map:

Auction License Valuation:

No Bids County - Cook, IL:

The Cook County C1 license did not receive any bid.  Because the FCC's minimum bid was based on Cook County's total population.  In this case, the license only provided access to 220 people in a whitespace sliver in the northeast corner of the county.  The FCC's minimum bid would have garnered a $206/MHz-POP valuation so it is no surprise that no bids were received.

County Whitespace Population % by Subchannel:

County Whitespace Population by Subchannel:

County Whitespace Map (B and C channels):

Auction License Valuation:

Conclusion:

In the chart below we have summarized the valuations for the four types of licenses that we have examined.  It is clear that the licenses in Auction 108 are not homogeneous and have unique license challenges that must be investigated individually.  These challenges drive wide swinging valuations.  In addition, the FCC's minimum bids skewed both the bidding activity (purchasing licenses with no population or overpricing licenses with limited population) and the valuation process

 


Which Licenses will T-Mobile Get from Columbia Capital? Thu, Aug 25, 2022

A little over a week ago, T-Mobile announced that they were purchasing additional 600MHz spectrum from Columbia Capital.  Immediately, we began receiving phone calls to determine which markets T-Mobile would be increasing their 600MHz spectrum holdings.  Unfortunately, the FCC application for this transaction has not be filed so our best view into these licenses is found by finding the licenses that T-Mobile is currently leasing from Columbia Capital.

Looking first at the Spectrum Grid in our Web Spectrum Viewer, we can see the markets and the channels that Columbia Capital controls.  Our Spectrum Grid can display 3 types of spectrum ownership data:  1) The license owner (FCC), 2) The current operator (Current), or 3) The Future Owner.  In this example we want to find the spectrum that Columbia Capital owns, so we are choosing FCC in the filters.

 

 
In this view, we can see that Columbia Capital (COL) controls 600MHz spectrum in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Philadelphia.  Clicking on any of the COL cells provides detailed information for that spectrum block in the licensee, call sign, lessee, and lease ID.
 
From this image we can see that one of the Columbia Capital licensee names is Channel 51 License Co.    The other licensee name is LB License Co.  
The easiest way to find T-Mobile's 600MHz leases is to utilize the Transactions module.  In the image below, you can see the filters we applied to our Transactions database to get an output of T-Mobile's 600MHz leases with Channel 51.  These are the licenses that will likely be included in the first half of the Columbia Capital transaction.  This transaction query can be exported to Excel and is available for download at the link below.
Channel 51 Leases
In the image below, you can see the filters we applied to our Transactions database to get an output of T-Mobile's 600MHz leases with LB License Co.  These are the licenses that will likely be included in the second half of the Columbia Capital transaction.  This transaction query can be exported to Excel and is available for download at the link below.
LB License Leases

Spectrum Reductions due to CBRS Consent Decree Tue, Aug 09, 2022

Previously we have written about the CBRS Consent Decree between the FCC and SAL Spectrum, Cable One, NorthWestern Corporation, US Cellular Corporation, and Shenandoah Cable Television.  Each of these CBRS auction winners had an investment from Black Rock, Inc greater than 10% interest.  Below are charts that reflecting each carrier's auction winnings, the licenses that they requested following the consent decree, and changes to each carriers market assignments. 

Looking at the Combined Blackrock from the Auction Results table, there are many markets where the combined group has auction spectrum allotments of 60MHz.  In the Updated License table, many markets went from being above the 40MHz limit to being below the 40MHz limit.  This is primarily due to SAL Spectrum (ATNI) declining any spectrum assignments in virtually all of these markets.

The last column to highlight is the GAA Increase column in the Change table.  This column reflects the net increase in GAA available spectrum in each market since the FCC is not planning to reauction this spectrum since it can still be utilized through the GAA usage process. 

 Arkansas and Illinois:

 

Missouri:

 

Maryland, Montana, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin:


Markets Affected by the CBRS Consent Decree Tue, Jul 26, 2022

Last week the FCC announced a consent decree with SAL Spectrum, Cable One, NorthWestern Corporation, U.S. Cellular Corporation, and Shenandoah Cable Television.  Each of these carriers was a winning bidder in the CBRS auction and they each have Black Rock, Inc. as an owner holding more than 10% interest. Because of the common ownership, these collective companies should have been limited to 40MHz of spectrum in the auction.  There are 80 license areas (counties) where the collective group exceeds 40MHz.  To identify those counties, we can use Allnet Insights' Spectrum Ownership Analysis Tool to display side by side, each of the affected carriers spectrum holdings for each band, including the CBRS band.  Summing up the CBRS holdings and filtering for values greater than 40 provides the identity of each county involved in the consent agreement.  Below is a table representing a subset of that analysis.

 

Below is a mapping highlighting all of these markets.

We have included maps below from our Web Spectrum Viewer that reflect the h CBRS auction winnings for each of the collective carriers prior to the consent decree.

Atlantic Tele-Networks (SAL Spectrum):

Cable One:

NorthWestern Corporation:

US Cellular:

Shenandoah Cable Television:


EBS Tribal License Updates Tue, May 24, 2022

With our May 2022 product releases we have updated our Mobile Carrier Spectrum Database to include the EBS Tribal Licenses that were given priority access to the EBS whitespace.  Below we have mapped the existing EBS licenses, the tribal licenses, and the remaining EBS whitespace markets for the EBS A1 channel.  As a reminder, the EBS A1 channel is one of 9 channels that make up the 1st EBS Auction Channel (C1) which is 49.5MHz.  You can see that there are a significant number of tribal licenses in Alaska, Arizona, New Mexico, and Oklahoma.

Zooming in on Oklahoma, you can see how the tribal licenses have been cut away by the existing EBS licenses.

Below is a map of Oklahoma indicating the tribal boundaries that were requested.  Where EBS licenses were already granted, the tribes were not authorized to claim that territory.

Granted 3.45GHz Licenses Reflected In Web Spectrum Viewer Tue, May 10, 2022

On May 4th, the FCC announced that they had granted all of the 3.45GHz licenses.  This is the point where our tools move from reflecting auction results to fully granted licenses.  

With fully granted licenses, our database indicates the call sign for each license.  The easiest way to find a call sign for any license is by selecting your desired geographic region (state, county, PEA, CMA, or EA) in our Spectrum Grid module.  In the image below, we are displaying all of the counties in the Seattle PEA market for the upper midband spectrum channels (WCS, EBS/BRS, 3.45GHz, and C-band).

The first way to see the assigned callsign is to click on the desired cell in the Spectrum Grid to reveal the license details.  Displayed below are the results for the 3.45GHz C block in King County.

The callsigns can also be displayed directly in the Spectrum Grid by choosing Call Sign in the Data Type filter. With this setting the callsigns for each channel in each of the Seattle PEA market counties are displayed


CBRS Spectrum Leases have been loaded into the SAS Tue, Apr 26, 2022

With the release of the 04042022 update to the SAS database, the first CBRS spectrum leases are now active in the SAS.  As a reminder, the SAS (Spectrum Access System) controls the ability for each of the CBRS radios to operate and the frequencies on which they will operate.

This update allows us to see both how these leases are reflected and how long it takes from filing a lease with the FCC, to having it active in the SAS.

Below are most of the columns from the SAS for the licenses the Wireless Partners (aka Great North Wireless (GNW)), leases from Consolidated Communications.  There is no reference in the SAS database to the actual license owner, just the operator who has current control of the spectrum.  The previous version of the SAS database had Consolidated Communications as the controlling operator for these licenses.

From a timing perspective, all of Wireless Partners leases were granted on 1/21/2022, so there is roughly a 3 month lag from FCC lease to being operational in the SAS.

If you are having a difficult time, keeping track of the spectrum licensees or the spectrum lessees for the CBRS band, please consider how we manage this data in our Web Spectrum Viewer.

First, to see what spectrum is leased, you can choose the leased spectrum in a dialog box and only the leased spectrum is highlighted.  This feature could also be used to highlight the parts of the 2.5GHz spectrum that T-Mobile has purchased, or continues to lease.

To see who owns each of the blocks of spectrum, you would chose our licensed spectrum option.  In this view, I have highlighted the licenses that Great North is leasing.

You can also click on any cell to get the full details for that license.  For the Fayette County CBRS-C license you can see the licensee, lessee, current, and future operator of that spectrum block, along with link to the FCC ULS for the call sign and lease ID fields.

Finally, to see the license footprint for all of Great North's CBRS licenses, you can select these licenses in our Mapping module and export the resulting map below.

 


Auction 108 - What information is provided? What information do you need? Sat, Apr 02, 2022

A little over a week ago, the FCC announced that Auction 108, for the unlicensed EBS spectrum, will begin on July 29th.  With this announcement the FCC also provided an updated auction inventory and a mapping tool that highlights where the spectrum is already licensed.  With this post we will look at the information that the FCC has provided and highlight the information that is actually needed by auction participants.  

 FCC Auction Inventory:

The FCC Auction inventory provides a listing of the auction channels (C1, C2, and C3) that are available in each county.  As you can see in the table below for Shelby AL, they list the full bandwidth with the full county population for each channel.  In our EBS Auction Opportunities Tool, we have determined the whitespace area and the population in the whitespace area for each auction subchannel.  An auction subchannel is one of the existing licensed channels that combined with other subchannels to make each auction channel. 

In our Population View Excel workbook, the available population for each subchannel is provided.  For the first auction channel (C1) in Shelby AL, 103,306 people are in the whitespace area for each of the first 6 subchannels, not the county wide population values the FCC provides.  More importantly, the FCC doesn't provide the primary valuation metric (MHz-POPs) for any of these licenses.  On the far right of our Population View table, the MHz-POPs (3,409,098) can be seen.  The MHz-POPs is the sum of each subchannel's population times the bandwidth (MHz) of that subchannel.

In our Population % View Excel workbook, the available population is shown as a percentage of the total county population.  As you can see, the available whitespace areas for the C1 channel in Shelby AL represents 53% of the county population.

EBS Auction Tool:  Population View:

EBS Auction Tool:  Population % View:

FCC Mapping Application:

If MHz-POPs is the most important datapoint on an available license, an understanding of the available whitespace geographical area would be the second most important datapoint.  In its mapping tool, the FCC provides a view not of the available whitespace area, but a map with the license encumbrances.  I found this to be a very confusing way to look at both the licensing data and the whitespace data.  I think it is easier to understand what is going on in the FCC map below if you look at it with an eye on our Population % table, above.  FCC map indicates that all 9 channels of the C1 auction channel are encumbered in northern Shelby AL.  Our data agrees because 47% of the population is already licensed for the A1, A2, A3, B1, B2, and B3 channels and 100% of the population is already licensed for the C1, C2, and C3 channels.  Looking at the green area in the south, only three channels are encumbered, which are the C1, C2, and C3 channels.

 FCC Mapping Application - Statistics

Additional statistics can be accessed from the FCC Mapping application as you click on each of the county areas.  Below we have clicked on the green area that is encumbered by 3 channels.  Strangely, the only additional statistics that the FCC provides are the total square miles of the county, the square miles in the selected encumbered area, and the relative percentage of total square miles this represents.  I know how carriers would utilize whitespace population to analyze the business opportunities in each county, but I not sure how the available square miles can guide business decisions.

 EBS Auction Opportunities Mapping:

Our EBS Auction Opportunities Tool includes the two Excel workbooks we discussed above and access to our Web Spectrum Viewer mapping tool to investigate each subchannels whitespace area.  From the Population % screen below, we will continue our example on Shelby AL.  For the B1 channel, you can see that 52% of the population is in the whitespace area.  Clicking on that cell will open a map view showing the county outlines for Shelby AL and the whitespace area in yellow.  In the detailed view, we have zoomed in to reveal the cities, communities, and recreation areas that are in the whitespace area.  This whitespace map indicates the area where you can launch a network using the 5.5MHz B1 channel.  If the whitespace areas are identical for A1, A2, A3, B1, B2, and B3 channels, the auction winner would be able to utilize 33MHz of combined spectrum over the southern Shelby AL area.

 
Web Spectrum Viewer - EBS Auction Mapping:
 
Web Spectrum Viewer - EBS Auction Mapping (Detailed):

When is the CBRS Spectrum Access System (SAS) Updated with new PAL licenses? Wed, Mar 30, 2022

In March we began to reflect the SAS default PAL assignments in the Spectrum Grid views of our Web Spectrum Viewer and Mobile Carrier - Spectrum Ownership Analysis Tool rather than the assignments that the FCC made following the auction.
 
In the Current Operator View below you can see that Dish has chosen the lower part of the CBRS frequency band for its assignments and Verizon has typical taken the upper part of the band.  Most of the time the GAA channels are spaced between different carriers channel allotments.  Our Current Operator View indicates the assignments that are currently in the SAS.  There is a delay between when licenses are granted by the FCC and when they are loaded into the SAS.  For example Rio Broadband, Nikola Engineering, Cross Wireless, and SureWest Broadband had their licenses granted on 12/9/2021 but they were only loaded into the SAS on 2/14/2022.
 
 
There are still 2755 CBRS licenses that have not been granted.  In the Current View of the Spectrum Grid, the spectrum that will be assigned is reflected as General Authorized Access (GAA) since all SAS operators can utilize that spectrum until the remain PAL licenses are granted and a network launched.  In our Future View of the Spectrum Grid, we reflect the future granting of these PAL licenses with placeholding assignments.  If you look at Clinton county, IL and Jefferson county, MO the assignments for CableOne (CBO) can be seen. 
  

3.45GHz Auction Results Sat, Jan 15, 2022

On Friday, the FCC posted the results from Auction 110.  On Saturday we updated the January 2021 release of our Mobile Carrier - Spectrum Ownership Analysis Tool to reflect the auction results.  These results provide the most detailed view of each carrier's spectrum that can be deployed for 5G, particularly all of the available upper mid-band spectrum including EBS/BRS, 3.45GHz, CBRS, and C-band.

In the Spectrum Grid, we can see the channel allocations.  In general, Dish took the upper end of the band with T-Mobile and AT&T alternate having the lower parts of the band.  In many markets, AT&T is pinned in the middle of the band between T-Mobile, Grain, and Columbia Capital.  Each of the spectrum investors has selected spectrum assignments adjacent to AT&T's spectrum meaning they are each well positioned to sell to AT&T if the 3.45GHz spectrum cap is lifted. 

In the National Band Ownership slides we look at each carrier's ownership based upon the percent of MHz-POPs that they control.

For the 3.45GHz band, AT&T leads the way with 39% of the MHz-POPs, Dish has 30%, T-Mobile has 12%, and USCellular has 4%.  

Looking the the complete picture for Upper Mid-band spectrum, T-Mobile still leads with 34%, Verizon follows with 30%, then AT&T with 24%.  Dish has 9% of the upper mid-band MHz-POPs and USCellular has 2%.

 


2.5GHz Tribal Boundary Applications...Significant Progress Made Tue, Jan 11, 2022

In our December month-end review of open FCC transactions, we saw significant progress from the FCC in the processing the EBS tribal applications.  56 of the pending transactions were granted, reducing the remaining pending applications to 40. 

FCC Tribal Application Status

Status
5/5/2021
10/31/2021
12/31/2021
Granted
201
273
329
Pending
175
94
40
Inactive/Withdrawn
7
5
Dismissed
18
20
20
Total
394
394
394

 


How much spectrum does Dish have for its Las Vegas network? Tue, Jan 04, 2022

Last month Light Reading re-published results from Signals Research Group's testing of Dish's first 5G network in Las Vegas.

Signals Research indicated that Dish is using 5MHz of their AWS-3 spectrum, 10MHz of their 600MHz spectrum, and 25MHz of their AWS-4. 

Initially I was curious whether Dish deployed all of their available spectrum so I utilized our Spectrum Survey Tool, which lists each channel block in a selected county along with the operating details for each channel including the current and future operator.  Dish's spectrum for Clark County, NV is displayed below.  The channel blocks that Signal Research Group indicates that Dish is operating are shaded green.  From my understanding of Signal Research Group's test results, Dish can still expand their Las Vegas network to include the 700MHz E block supplemental downlink channel, the A1/B1 AWS-3 uplink channel, the remainder of their AWS-4 spectrum and their CBRS spectrum.

 

 

To see this in terms of spectrum depth, below is an output from our Spectrum Depth Analysis module highlighting each of the national carriers' spectrum depth by category in Clark County.

 

 

 


Determining Unissued CBRS Licenses Tue, Dec 14, 2021

Earlier this month, the FCC announced that they finally released (granted) the CBRS PAL licenses won in Auction 105 by Cross Telephone Company.  I thought that this would be a good opportunity to show how the Transactions module in our Web Spectrum Viewer can be used to determine the status of pending transactions. 

As an introduction, our Transaction module includes all of the transactions affecting the mobile carrier and millimeter wave spectrum bands, going back to 2014.  We capture each of these transactions when they are posted on the FCC Daily Digest and update their status monthly until they are granted.

To find the unissued CBRS licenses, we set the filters to only include the CBRS spectrum transactions, for new licenses, that still have a pending FCC status.

 

After setting these filters, the results can be exported as an Excel file.

 

 

Finally, since the Transaction export includes a record for each license  that a carrier will receive, I am going to apply a pivot table in Excel, to summarize the 2857 matching records.  In the table below, you can see the bidding names for the companies that have not received their CBRS licenses and the count of their outstanding licenses.  Cross Telephone is still on this list, because the transactions list is updated monthly with the currently list indicating all of the transactions through the end of November.  The Cross Telephone licenses were granted on December 10, 2021 so they will be reflected in the January transaction file update.

 


Cogeco's Entrance into Canada's Mobile Market - Network Capabilities Tue, Nov 23, 2021

Lightreading recently posted an article about Cogeco's entrance into the Canadian mobile market places initially as a MVNO while building their own network.  To view Cogeco's we are going to present a couple of views of Cogeco's spectrum holdings from our current Mobile Carrier - Spectrum Ownership Analysis Tool (Canada).  

In Lightreading's article, Cogeco indicated that they purchased 3.5GHz spectrum licenses covering 91% of their broadband footprint.  Our licensed population analysis module provides an accounting for how much of the Canadian population can be reached with Cogeco's spectrum.  Cogeco owns spectrum in 2 additional spectrum bands (WCS and BRS) providing licenses over 0.1% of Canada's population and 15.4% respectively.  With their 3.5GHz spectrum, covering 91% of their broadband footprint only translates to roughly 30% of the Canadian population.

Cogeco Licensed Population by Frequency Band:

Frequency Band Ownership:

When we look at Frequency Band ownership for the 3.5GHz spectrum, Cogeco only controls 4% of the MHz-POPs in this band.  Clearly Bell Canada, Rogers, and Telus have large bandwidths in each market to enable faster 5G connections.

National Weighted Average Spectrum Depth:

When we look at the National Averages for spectrum depth, Cogeco only has 12MHz of upper mid band spectrum (WCS, BRS, and 3.5GHz) which is less than 10% of what the national carriers average.


The Latest on EBS (2.5GHz) Tribal Boundary Licenses Thu, Nov 04, 2021

It has been just over 6 months since we compiled the status of the tribal licenses that were filed by September 2, 2020.  It is important to see the FCC's progress in processing these applications due to their impact on the EBS Auction.  To reiterate, these tribal boundary applications have the first rights to the EBS whitespace areas but their rights are secondary to the existing licensee rights.  In our previous post, we included the EBS A1 license areas with the granted tribal areas, highlighting areas where tribes would not be able to claim access to the EBS A1 channel over the entirety of their filed tribal area.

FCC Tribal Application Status

Status 5/5/2021 10/31/2021
Granted 201 273
Pending 175 94
Inactive 7
Dismissed 18 20
Total 394 394

 


EBS Spectrum Control Maps Mon, Nov 01, 2021

In our most recent blog post, we highlighted the challenges faced by T-Mobile in two markets where they don't control parts of the EBS spectrum (channels), that limit their deployment of large 5G channels across each urban market.  Where that post focused on the effects of owning or not owning a specific channel across a geography, the EBS Spectrum Control Maps below provide a more general look at the percent of EBS spectrum that T-Mobile owns, the FCC owns, and Other Carriers own.  To complete this analysis we used the MHz-POPs analysis from our EBS Auction Tool, combined with our analysis of T-Mobile's EBS MHz-POPs using the same geographic licensing database.  

While these maps provide insights on the EBS band in totality, the individual issues faced by T-Mobile in Orange County, CA don't strongly appear in these maps because they control all of the EBS channels except the G channels meaning they still control a high percentage of the EBS spectrum in Orange County.    For the Chicago market, the whitespace EBS challenges can be seen  with Lake County receiving a light green and McHenry receiving an orange.


Deficiencies of T-Mobile’s 2.5GHz Spectrum Tue, Oct 26, 2021

Recent discussions around the wireless industry have included opining on why T-Mobile acquired 40MHz of C-band spectrum when they control so much 2.5GHz spectrum.  Although the 2.5GHz spectrum is a valuable spectrum asset, there are two challenges to this spectrum that are not well understood by the industry and we believe that T-Mobile’s C-band purchases were a strategic purchase to provide a path to overcome these two spectrum licensing limitations.

License Areas Controlled by the FCC:

The first limitation is unlicensed or whitespace areas in core urban markets. To highlight these areas, we are going to start with some whitespace analysis that we have developed as part of our EBS Auction Tool.  In this analysis, the percentage of the population that is available in the whitespace area is indicated for each EBS channel in a county.  We have also calculated the percentage of the population that is contained with T-Mobile license area and the percentage of the population that is contained within the license area of any other carrier. In the image below we are showing the percentage of the population under T-Mobile’s control and under the FCC control (whitespace) for the entire 2.5GHz frequency band including both the EBS and BRS channels.  The color ranges start at 0% with red, 50% with yellow, and 100% with green.  In our initial analysis we will be focusing on the first auction channel (black box) in the six counties that make up the Chicago CMA market.  We prefer to use the CMA market structure to evaluate urban areas because they include only the most populated counties in each urban area.

2.5GHz Full-band Population Percentage View (Chicago):

2.5GHz – 1st EBS Auction Channel Population Percentage View (Chicago):

           
Chicago CMA Counties:

In the top section of the chart above, it is apparent that T-Mobile controls all of the 1st EBS Auction channel in Cook, DuPage, and Will counties but they only control all of the A1-A2-A3 channels in Kane County.  Fortunately, the parts of 1st EBS Auction channel that they don’t own will be available in the Auction 108.  The available whitespace is indicated in the lower half of the chart.  Looking at McHenry County, 100% of the C1-C2 channels will be available in the EBS Auction (108).

These charts highlights the percentage of the population available either for T-Mobile’s licenses or for the FCC’s whitespace.  Next we will look at the geographic constraints of T-Mobile’s licenses and the shape of each county’s whitespace area.  In the map below we are able to show the license areas for the A1-A2-A3 channels because the license areas of interest are identical.  It is apparent that T-Mobile has the rights to operate the A1-A2-A3 channels completely across the counties in the Chicago CMA except Lake and McHenry.

Licensing Map – A1-A2-A3 (Chicago):

Looking at the B1-B2-B3 & C3 channels, a whitespace area exists covering almost all of Kane County along with similar whitespace areas in McHenry and Lake counties.

Licensing Map – B1-B2-B3 & C3 (Chicago):

Our final map delineates the largest limitations to the areas that T-Mobile can deploy the C1-C2 channels in the Chicago CMA market.  Their base stations located in the gray areas of Kane, Lake, and McHenry counties cannot use the C1-C2 channels.  

Licensing Map – C1-C2 (Chicago):

Looking again at the T-Mobile’s control of the 1st EBS auction channel we can highlight the deployment limitations that the whitespace area presents.  Since the 1st Auction channel is 49.5MHz, this chart indicates that T-Mobile can deploy roughly a 50MHz channel on any sites in Cook, DuPage, and Will counties.  In Kane County they are limited to a 15MHz channel in the available 16.5MHz of spectrum.  To have a consistent deployment of a 50MHz channel across Chicago, they would need to purchase the whitespaces areas for each of these channels in each of the Chicago counties.

 

 

 

Looking again at the T-Mobile’s control of the 1st EBS auction channel we can highlight the deployment limitations that the whitespace area presents.  Since the 1st Auction channel is 49.5MHz, this chart indicates that T-Mobile can deploy roughly a 50MHz channel on any sites in Cook, DuPage, and Will counties.  In Kane County they are limited to a 15MHz channel in the available 16.5MHz of spectrum.  To have a consistent deployment of a 50MHz channel across Chicago, they would need to purchase the whitespaces areas for each of these channels in each of the Chicago counties.

The last perspective that we want to share on the Chicago market is the actual population in each of the whitespace areas for each county. Although we thought that 100% of the population was available for each channel in Cook County, the whitespace population table indicates that there is a very small population and small geographic area that is a whitespace within Cook County for the B1-B2-B3-C1-C2-C3 channels.

2.5GHz – 1st EBS Auction Channel Population View - Whitespace (Chicago):

License Areas Controlled by Other Carriers:

The second limitation is spectrum blocks that are controlled by other carriers in core urban markets. To highlight these areas we are going to look at the four counties in the Los Angeles CMA market.  For the Population Percentage Chart below, we are including the population percentage for other carriers rather than the whitespace percentages.

2.5GHz Full-band Population Percentage View (Los Angeles):

2.5GHz – 3rd EBS Auction Channel Population Percentage View (Los Angeles):

In the Top View it is apparent that T-Mobile already controls the spectrum across all of the BRS channels (gray) in Los Angeles County but they are missing roughly 10% of the population for the G1-G2-G3 channels. In between the two BRS blocks of spectrum are the K guard band channels.  The ownership of these guard band channels mirrors the ownership of the primary channel e.g. G1=KG1.    The BRS channels and the EBS G1-G2-G3 channels total to 87MHz of spectrum, providing T-Mobile the ability to deploy an 80MHz NR channel throughout most of Los Angeles County.  Unfortunately in Orange County, another carrier owns 98% of the G1-G2-G3 channels limiting T-Mobile to a 10MHz channel in the first BRS block (F4-E4) and a 50MHz channel in the second BRS block  (BRS2-E123-F123-H123).  

Los Angeles CMA Counties:

In looking at the G1-G2-G3 licensing map, you can see that there are actually three licenses that T-Mobile does not control in the Los Angeles CMA Market.

Licensing Map – G1-G2-G3:

 2.5GHz – 3rd Auction Channel Population View – Other Carriers (Los Angeles):

 

The Other Carriers Population percentage view indicates the large licensed population that is controlled by other carriers and would need to be purchased by T-Mobile.

Conclusion:

With these two examples we have shown that missing 2.5GHz spectrum either due to it being unlicensed or being controlled by another carrier present challenges that likely limit T-Mobile’s largest 5G channel size to a subset of each urban market.  We believe that T-Mobile’s participation in the C-band and the current 3.45GHz auction was to “future” proof their ability to offer large channel sizes in the upper mid-band spectrum.  With either the C-band spectrum or the 3.45GHz spectrum, T-Mobile could use carrier aggregation to achieve 100MHz effective channel sizes even in areas where their 2.5GHz spectrum is more limited.


C-band Interim and Future Licenses Thu, Aug 12, 2021

On July 23rd, the FCC granted most of the C-band (Auction 107) licenses. This provided us the first opportunity to see how the FCC was going to handle the interim A block licenses that will transition into the permanent license on December 31, 2023.  The FCC provided call signs for each of the permanent licenses as well as call signs for each of AT&T's interim licenses.

These interim and future designations allow us to highlight a unique capability of our Web Spectrum Viewer and Mobile Carrier - Spectrum Ownership Analysis Tool.   For each block of spectrum we capture the spectrum licensee and the carrier that may lease the spectrum.  This information indicates the current operator.  Typically the current operator is the future operator, unless a pending transaction allocates that spectrum block to a different operator.  We are using this database capability to reflect the interim C-band licenses with the current operator field and the permanent operator with the future operator field.  You can see the AT&T interim allocations below as we are displaying the "Current" Spectrum Ownership Grid. 

Current View:

 

The future allocations are seen in the Future View below.

Future View:

 

Another way that this current and future ownership data can be seen is in our Spectrum Survey.    The Spectrum Survey provides the call sign, current operator, and future operator for all of the frequency bands in a selected county.  

Spectrum Survey:

 


Canadian 3.5GHz Auction Results and Consolidated Spectrum Ownership Tue, Aug 03, 2021

Last week the Canadian 3.5GHz spectrum auction concluded and winning bids were announced.  Our Mobile Carrier - Spectrum Ownership Analysis Tool (CAN) has been updated to reflect these new winning bids.  Below are a few views of both the auction results and the composite spectrum holdings that are available from this analytical tool.
 
Spectrum Ownership Grid:
 
 
Spectrum Depth (Frequency Band Detail):
 
 
National Spectrum Band Ownership:
 
This chart indicates the percentage of the Broadband Wireless (BWS) band that each selected carrier controls based upon each carriers National MHz-POPs.  From this chart you can see that 7% of the BWS spectrum is controlled by carriers other than the 8 listed.  National Spectrum Band Ownership charts are available for each of the band classifications (low band, lower mid band, and upper mid band) along with each of the frequency band in all of our Mobile Carrier Tools.
 
 
Carrier Spectrum Distribution:
 
These charts highlight individual carrier's spectrum distribution, again measured as a percentage of MHz-POPs.  The chart immediately below indicates that the largest percentage of Telus's spectrum is upper mid band.  The specific frequency band percentages can be seen in the lower chart.  The upper mid band percentage (45%) is made up of roughly 13% (WCS), 16% (BRS), and 17% (BWS).
 
 

EBS Auction Update Webinars (Auction 108) Wed, Jul 14, 2021

Allnet Insights will be hosting EBS Auction Update Webinars throughout July.  The webinar will highlight how the existing license areas are determined and how the corresponding unlicensed areas (whitespaces) are calculated.  The update will also include an overview of the available licenses by county.  Below are the Webinar times.  Clicking a date will take you to a sign up page where you will receive the webinar link.  Your contact information will not be visible to the other webinar attendees.


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