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Sprint CFO: 600MHz Auction Will Not Deliver Enough Spectrum

Dan Jones
1/8/2016

Sprint's new CFO mainly reiterated what he said in late 2015 during a conference in Las Vegas on Thursday afternoon but did elucidate why the operator isn't particularly interested in the 600MHz TV Incentive auction this year.

"This auction is at best going to give a block of 2x10MHz spectrum," Tarek Robbiati said at the Citi 2016 Internet, Media and Telecommunications Conference. "For a really, really high-speed network you need at least 2x20MHz of contiguous spectrum."

Furthermore, Robbiati suggested, the spectrum won't be available for use until 2021. (See Sprint Says It Will Sit Out Incentive Auction .)

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Verizon Wireless also seem lukewarm on the 600MHz auction. All of which has led T-Mobile US Inc. 's CEO, John Legere, to suggest that his carrier will be a winner in the upcoming spring auction. (See T-Mobile CEO: We'll be a 600MHz Auction Winner.)

Instead, Robbiati says, Sprint will work harder on adding capacity to its network with its existing spectrum. This will involve adding small cells, femtocells and distributed antenna systems (DAS), the CFO says.

"What we're really working on is picking out the partners that we work with," Robbiati says. He says that there are plenty of alternative vendors at CES that Sprint could talk to. (See Sprint's Small Cell Suppliers Could Include Some Surprises.)

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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mhhf1ve
mhhf1ve
1/8/2016 | 9:31:29 PM
Re: Still won't be cheap...
Tmo definitely needs more building-penetrating spectrum. And maybe a little less of a swearing CEO suggesting EFF is funded by nefarious entities.
DanJones
DanJones
1/8/2016 | 4:07:03 PM
Re: Spectrum Aggregation
They have plenty of 2.5Ghz in cities, so adding small cells to take advantage of that makes sense to them.
DanJones
DanJones
1/8/2016 | 4:01:00 PM
Re: Still won't be cheap...
T-Mobile needs low band for coverage, penetration. So it works fine for them.
jediknight0
jediknight0
1/8/2016 | 3:41:00 PM
Spectrum Aggregation
I understand that Sprint would rather have 2x20MHz than 2x10MHz, but with the technology of spectrum aggregation, 2x10 MHz at 600MHz can be aggregated with 2x10 MHz from a different band to provide equivalent performance.  Sprint is already trialing tri-band aggregation, and the standards allow for aggregating up to 5 channels.  A 10MHz channel is hardly worthless.
mhhf1ve
mhhf1ve
1/8/2016 | 1:55:18 PM
Still won't be cheap...
Even though it sounds like no one wants this spectrum, I assume the winner will have buyer's remorse for paying too much for it. Bidders will drive up the price without any intention of actually using it, and T-Mo will be left holding an overpriced bag if it really goes after this spectrum.

OR... maybe we'll see some unknown player get this spectrum?
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