One of the benefits of Allnet Insights' Spectrum Ownership Analysis Tools, is the repository of monthly releases that we have accumulated. With the USA Mobile Carrier Tool we have monthly versions going back to July 2012. Each of our historical tools details spectrum ownership and the variety of spectrum depth analysis modules that were supported at that time.
I thought it would be interesting to look back at the spectrum ownership landscape from July 2012. Looking first at our Spectrum Grid for low band spectrum, you can see that Verizon still holds the 700MHz B block licenses that were sold later to AT&T. In addition, Verizon also holds the 700MHz A block licenses that were sold to T-Mobile.
Looking next at the lower mid band spectrum, former licensees like SpectrumCo, Leap Wireless, and MetroPCS still control blocks of AWS-1 and PCS spectrum. This view of spectrum ownership also allows you to see how Verizon consolidated their AWS-1 spectrum holdings with SpectrumCo's holdings into a 20 MHz block through spectrum license trades with T-Mobile and their MetroPCS licenses. Today Verizon controls the lower 20 MHz of the AWS-1 band and T-Mobile controls the upper 25 MHz in the New York / New Jersey counties.
Looking at the upper mid band spectrum we first see all of the original WCS spectrum licensees: Horizon Wi-Com, Nextwave, Sprint, Comcast, and San Diego Gas & Electric. Clearwire also appears in the upper mid band Spectrum Grid with their 2.5GHz spectrum holdings.
It is interesting then to look at our County Analysis module to see the detail on each carrier's spectrum depth. It is noteworthy to mention that Verizon has 119 MHz of spectrum in most of the New York / New Jersey counties with AT&T trailing with 91 MHz of spectrum. Verizon still sits with rough the same amount of spectrum although they replaced all of the 700MHz spectrum they sold to AT&T and T-Mobile with SpectrumCo spectrum and AWS-3 spectrum while AT&T has growth while AT&T has grown their spectrum depth in the same counties to 161 MHz.
There were several interesting details that came out of the Deutsche Telekom Capital Markets Day 2012. The primary announcement concerned T-Mobile USA being blessed with the ability to sell the iPhone. T-Mobile's new CEO, John Legere indicated that it will have a dramatically different experience than the other iPhone on the market. In addition T-Mobile will sell it unsubsidized, although they will offer financing plans. This should continue to drive T-Mobile's Cost Per Gross Add (CPGA) down, although they didn't disclose if this only affects their iPhone retail business or potentially all of their retail. This is a dramatic step which eliminate the primary issue that I have had with the subsidy pricing model. I have a problem with paying the same monthly rate for my smartphone if I am out of contract as the guy that who just got a new device. With T-Mobile's plan the true cost of upgrading will be carried by the customer, with the expectation of lower monthly rates.
Above is a restatement of the testing data from PC Magazine which T-Mobile released. It is interesting to note how far their speeds have fallen from their early announcements in late 2010 concerning the HSPA+ network. It is also worth noting that they compared AT&T's LTE network. You can again see the loading effect on the network. AT&T's Chicago network was launched September 2011 so it has been loading for over a year reflecting the slower speeds. AT&T's complete New York and San Francisco networks are much newer, launching September 2012, thus carrying less traffic. I am curious why T-Mobile did not chose to compare themselves to AT&T's 4G (HSPA+) network.
From a LTE network build perspective, this was the first time I have heard clearly that T-Mobile is deploying tower top electronics. It is interesting that they state that they are the first carrier in North America to broadly deploy radio-integrated antennas. Clearwire was the first carrier to deploy tower top base stations, followed by Sprint with their Network Vision project. T-Mobile is playing up the fact that their radios are some how integrated into the antenna. Not really an earth shattering announcement. From a technology perspective, deploying the tower top base stations will fill in coverage holes and improve data speeds so it is a good move. In addition, these base stations will be Release 10 capable, meaning a software update will move these radio from the LTE features to the LTE Advance features.
- Current 4G Network covers 225 million POPs
- Release 10 Equipment being deployed to 37,000 cell sites
- T-Mobile and MetroPCS: Migration not Integration
- With MetroPCS Spectrum Position across Top 25 service areas is improved by 21%
- Planning to shutdown 10,000 macro sites from MetroPCS
- Retain and integrate 1,000 MetroPCS sites
- Operating MetroPCS Markets
- San Francisco
- New York
- Florida (except panhandle)
- MetroPCS brand will increase coverage from 105MPOPs to more than 280MPOPs.