December 31, 2015
T-Mobile's CEO is predicting that the carrier will be a winner in the next major US wireless spectrum auction, due in March.
Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) has already said it will sit out the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) 's 600MHz TV broadcast spectrum "Incentive Auction" next year. Verizon Wireless has been lukewarm, saying it will participate if the terms are right.
T-Mobile US Inc. 's CEO John Legere has never made a secret of the operator's interest in acquiring more low-band spectrum, which will enable improved coverage with 600MHz radios installed on existing towers as well as improved in-building radio penetration. Legere is now confident that the carrier will succeed in the 600MHz auction.
"The lowband spectrum auctions will be the most important in recent US history and will shape the future of the wireless industry for decades to come," he says in a blog Wednesday. "I predict that T-Mobile will walk away a winner."
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The prediction may seem bold, even if the carrier has been selling off towers and more to raise cash for the auction: AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Verizon will still have more resources to throw at the spectrum sell-off, as both did in the $45 billion AWS-3 auction earlier this year. (See Hey Big Spenders! AT&T, Dish & VZ Splash Cash on Spectrum and T-Mobile US Sells Off Another 600+ Towers.)
AT&T and Verizon may, however, may not be as interested in the low-band 600MHz auction as they were in the AWS (2100/1700MHz) mid-band auction. "Higher frequency spectrum is capacity and that's really what we need at the moment," Verizon CFO Fran Shammo said in October. (See Verizon to Start Deploying LTE-U in 2016.)
Shammo also noted that 600MHz is less attractive to Verizon because the operator used 700MHz C-Band spectrum for its initial 4G LTE deployment, so is unlikely to deploy over 600MHz in the same markets. "600 and 700 don't play well together -- there's a lot of interference," the CFO said.
What applies to Verizon also goes for AT&T in this respect, as both operators built their LTE networks on "beachfront" 700MHz spectrum. T-Mobile US also bought 700MHz from Verizon, but doesn't have the low-band spectrum available across the US. (See T-Mobile Puts Low-Band to Work .)
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading
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