CellTower

Analysts say the AWS-3 Auction Helps AT&T Catch up to Verizon in Spectrum

February 2, 2015 - Written By Alexander Maxham

The AWS-3 spectrum auction ended last week, and the results really wasn’t all that surprising. AT&T spent a ton coming in first, with Verizon and Dish in the middle and T-Mobile at the bottom of the list. This was for the 1700MHz and the 2100MHz spectrum. So not the 600MHz spectrum that John Legere’s mouth is watering over. Now that the results are in, and we know that AT&T is picking up quite a bit of spectrum, it’s time for the industry analysts to weigh in.

“Verizon on the other hand focused on improving the uniformity of its portfolio, and now only has two top 20 markets with less than a 100 MHz position,” said the Jeffries analysts. “We see T-Mobile’s  gains as minimal, only spending $1.8 billion, and believe the company is executing the right strategy in purchasing 700 MHz A Block spectrum on the secondary market, and saving for the upcoming [600 MHz incentive] auction.”

Adding to all of that, New Street analyst Jonathan Chaplin wrote in a research note today, “The auction results demonstrate that carriers value wireless capacity at multiples of what investors thought prior to the auction.”

So it looks like T-Mobile was playing it safe in this auction, and saving up for the bigger auction, that will see the 600MHz spectrum going up for sale. And the fact that they are buying the 700MHz A Block spectrum from other carriers, means they are saving money while stock piling good, low-band spectrum.

Why is the spectrum so important to these carriers? Well for one, their networks are getting overcrowded. And more spectrum allows them to have more room for everyone. The lower band spectrum is also better for signal. As it can penetrate walls as well as cover more area. Which is a big reason why Sprint and T-Mobile’s networks are far worse – signal wise – than AT&T and Verizon. Who both have plenty of sub-1GHz spectrum.