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.
With the September 2017 release of our Mobile Carrier - Spectrum Ownership Analysis Tool, we have also added the ability to visualize and track the 600MHz reserved spectrum by county or by market.
In our Spectrum Grid default view, you are able to visualize which spectrum blocks are designated as reserved for the counties in each of the most populated Cellular Market Area (CMA) markets.
To display the reserved spectrum for all of the counties within a Partial Economic Area (PEA) market, you can sort the county data using the PEA # column.
The green areas are the areas that we expected T-Mobile to deploy a 5x5 LTE channel using their 600MHz spectrum. Let's check these areas with the press release:
Central Pennsylvania appears to be our only miss in this T-Mobile list. It is strange that T-Mobile is emphasizing a 600MHz deployment in an area they already control the 700MHz -A Block spectrum.
For this blog post, I am going to use Allnet Insights' Mobile Carrier - Spectrum Ownership Analysis Tool to estimate the 600 MHz spectrum that T-Mobile will use to deploy LTE and what will remain available to deploy 5G.
To start this analysis, I will get T-Mobile 600 MHz and 700 MHz spectrum holdings at a county-level from the Company Analysis Module.
Using this data, we assign 10 MHz of 600 MHz spectrum to all counties where T-Mobile doesn't control 700 MHz spectrum. This spectrum assignment would provide T-Mobile with similar LTE capacity across the United States. Note that there are a few counties where T-Mobile controls enough 700 MHz spectrum to enable a 10x10 LTE channel.
The remaining 600 MHz spectrum is expected to be deployed as a 5G technology. For the map below, i have indicated 5G channel sizes that are similar to LTE channel sizes except for a 25 MHz channel size which doesn't exist in the LTE framework. This is in markets where T-Mobile controls 50 MHz of spectrum above the 5 MHz channel LTE network.