6 Dec

T-Mobile Continues to Invest in Network and Spectrum Purchases

WRITTEN BY Ambrish Shah

T-Mobile’s spectrum holdings

T-Mobile (TMUS) has a solid spectrum position, with a total spectrum depth of ~86 MHz (megahertz) in the top 25 markets in the United States as of the end of 3Q16.

According to T-Mobile, its spectrum is made up of “an average of 12 MHz in the 700 MHz band, 30 MHz in the 1900 MHz PCS band, and 44 MHz in the AWS band.”

T-Mobile Continues to Invest in Network and Spectrum Purchases

T-Mobile’s 700 MHz A-Block update

In the US wireless space, Verizon Communications (VZ) and AT&T (T) have significant holdings in low-band spectrums. T-Mobile and Sprint (S), in contrast, don’t have such large holdings in these coverage spectrums. However, T-Mobile continues to add low-band spectrum holdings.

As a result, T-Mobile’s coverage on the 700 MHz A-Block spectrum continues to increase. Better coverage on the low-band spectrum is positively impacting T-Mobile’s subscriber growth. The company stated at the end of 3Q16 that it already owned, or had entered into agreements to own, 700 MHz A-Block spectrum that covers around 84% of the population of the United States. T-Mobile’s 700 MHz A-Block spectrum covers all of the top ten market areas in the United States.

PoPs (point-of-presence) covered under the Extended Range LTE (long-term evolution) category on the 700 MHz A-block increased by 25 million to reach 225 million during 3Q16. T-Mobile stated during its 3Q16 earnings presentation that in 2016, it expects to roll out the 700 MHz spectrum in various cities, including Phoenix, San Diego, and Las Vegas.

T-Mobile has also now achieved 4G (fourth-generation) LTE coverage parity with Verizon, with 312 million POPs covered.

In addition, T-Mobile began to selectively deploy AWS-3 spectrum, and its management expects that the deployment of LTE-U (LTE unlicensed) and LAA (licensed-assisted access) in 5 GHz (gigahertz) could begin in 2017. The company also expects that 3.5 GHz will be deployed in ~2018 as shared spectrum, which can be used for small cells.

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