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T-Mobile Needs More Spectrum to stay Competitive

September 15, 2015 - Written By Alexander Maxham

In the past few years, it’s been tough to go a week without seeing a news headline mention T-Mobile or its CEO, John Legere. Most of the time, that’s been a good thing. When Legere took over the reigns of T-Mobile USA in late 2012, he started something big. That no one could have imagined. Which was turning around a carrier that had been losing nearly a million customers a quarter, for years. And start adding over a million every quarter, with some quarters being over 2 million customers. As well as eliminating pain points for customers, and in turn, shaking up the industry.

However, one of the weak points for T-Mobile is spectrum. Most of their spectrum is what we call “mid-band”, that’s greater than 1GHz, but lower than 2GHz. Now the low-band spectrum is what gives AT&T and Verizon their great indoor coverage, T-Mobile doesn’t have much of that. They only recently got their hands on some 700MHz spectrum and have been rolling that out. Now there is the 600MHz spectrum auction coming in January of next year. But in being realistic here, that spectrum won’t roll out until 2018 or later. Which means T-Mobile needs to find a way to stay competitive for at least three years, without that low-band spectrum.

This means that Legere and his team are going to need to pull out some more tricks. Not that it’ll be hard for them to do, but it’s going to take some time, and they may even lose some customers during that time. Especially with the network not getting that much better coverage, especially indoors, as quickly. Legere has done a great job at turning around T-Mobile USA, and changing the wireless industry. It’s going to be interesting to see what he and his team can do in the next few years before they can get the chance to use the 600MHz spectrum, that is if they actually win the spectrum auction. With AT&T and Verizon there, and their checkbooks, it’s going to be pretty tough for the number three carrier, T-Mobile, to get their hands on a decent amount of low-band spectrum in this auction.