T-Mobile’s spectrum holdings
At the end of 4Q16, T-Mobile (TMUS) had a solid spectrum position, featuring a total spectrum depth of ~86 MHz in the top 25 markets in the US. According to technology adviser John Celentano, T-Mobile’s spectrum is composed 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’s 700 MHz A-Block update
In the US wireless space, Verizon Communications (VZ) and AT&T (T) have significant holdings in the low-band spectrums. In contrast, T-Mobile and Sprint (S) have smaller holdings in these coverage spectrums. However, T-Mobile is adding to its 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 has a positive effect on T-Mobile’s subscriber growth.
The company stated at the end of fiscal 4Q16 that it had entered into agreements to own, or that it already owned, 700 MHz A-Block spectrum, which covers ~84% of the population of the US. T-Mobile’s 700 MHz A-Block spectrum covers the top ten market areas in the US.
PoPs (point of presence) covered under T-Mobile’s Extended Range LTE on 700 MHz A-block increased by 27 million during 4Q16 to reach 252 million. The company stated during its fiscal 4Q16 earnings presentation that in 2017, the company expects to roll out its 700 MHz spectrum in several cities, particularly Chicago. T-Mobile has achieved 4G LTE coverage parity with Verizon, with 314 million POPs covered.
T-Mobile is selectively deploying its AWS-3 spectrum, and the company’s management expects that deployment of LTE-U and LAA (Licensed Assisted Access) in 5 GHz could begin in 2017. The company expects that 3.5 GHz could be deployed in 2018 as shared spectrum, which can be used for small cells.