LTE Spectrum allocation between Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint

July 16, 2014 - Written By Abhinav Singh

With the evolution of LTE, U.S. carriers are competing with each other in order to capture more spectrum to accommodate 4G services for their customers. To add a better picture to the upcoming demand of the spectrum, allow us tell you that FCC has projected a spectrum deficiency of 275 MHz for U.S. wireless Carriers by 2014 and as per Traffic and Market Data report published by Ericsson, the global mobile data traffic will multiply by 10 times between 2012 and 2016. So let us take a look at the current spectrum allocated to the top 4 carriers in US, which are Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile. A Spectrum Analysis tool was used to by AllNet Labs (a wireless consulting firm) to determine the LTE channel size of these 4 carriers in the spectrum band. The reports or evaluation generated by that tool were based on the FCC dataset of June 2014.

Verizon Wireless

Currently, 700 MHz LTE band of Verizon Wireless covers 306 million Point Of Presence (it is an artificial interface point between communicating entities). Apart from this, Verizon is also using 20 MHz of AWS band (Advanced Wireless Service) to shoot up their network capacity. You must know that AWS band uses microware frequencies for uplink (1710 to 1755 MHz) and downlink (2110 MHz to 2155 MHz) which is mostly expected to be used by mobile devices. They have purchased this 20 MHz of AWS spectrum in a deal with Spectrum Co, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Brighthouse Networks for 3.9 billion USD. So, Verizon is pushing hard to increase the network capacity for their LTE services (or XLTE services) for their customers.

AT&T Mobility

Along with Verizon, AT&T is considered to be top most occupant of 700 MHz band but still it is trying its best to goof up their network capacity by capturing AWS band. This was quite evident from their move to takeover T-Mobiles, which holds the largest chunk of AWS band in the whole country. As of now the 700 MHz band of AT&T acquires 290 million POPs. They have also started re-farming its 1900 MHz PCD band for their LTE services.

T-Mobile US

As we mentioned earlier that T-Mobiles has got the largest chunk from AWS band and it used 20 MHz out of it for the LTE services along with 5 MHz from 700 MHz band. AWS spectrum for LTE has been mainly deployed in 10x10MHz frames to cover 230 POPs. T-Mobile has also come up with a Wideband LTE service which used the 15x15MHz frames of AWS spectrum in 16 US markets. Wideband LTE service is nothing but a special name given to the deployment of 15×15 MHz LTE service. Apart from this they have also deployed 20×20 MHz services in North Dallas and Detroit and more such deployments will be seen by the end of this year.


It seems to be the odd one out of all the 4 major carriers in the US. Sprint does not hold any spectrum in 700 MHz band but it holds 15MHz of spectrum in 800 MHz and 34 MHz on PCS (Personal Communication Service) band (uplink 1850 to 1915 MHz and downlink 1930 to 1990 MHz).  It also owns up to 40 MHz of 2.5 GHz spectrum for LTE by partnering with Clearwire. With such a huge control over the LTE spectrum, Sprint covers 471 markets and 250 POPs. Sprint expects to cover 100 more POPs by the end of this year, mainly if Clearwire manages to build more LTE networks on its band.