Next year, the last auction for low-band spectrum in about a decade, is set to take place. With Verizon and AT&T already hoarding about three-quarters of the low-band or sub-1GHz spectrum available, T-Mobile is looking to make a big splash and pick up a decent amount of that 600MHz spectrum that will be up for auction. Low-band spectrum is very important to carriers for a few reasons. The bigger one being that it can cover more area than the higher band spectrum, and it has better building penetration (hence why Verizon and AT&T’s network’s are so good inside buildings).
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T-Mobile’s CEO, John Legere, recently stated that he believes T-Mobile will “walk out a winner” of that spectrum auction which is set to take place in the first quarter of 2016. With Sprint already sitting out of the auction, stating that they have plenty of spectrum already (that and they are in desperate need of money), and Verizon being pretty lukewarm to the auction, this could be a good thing for T-Mobile to pick up some 600MHz spectrum. Earlier this year, T-Mobile bought a ton of 700MHz spectrum from Verizon and a few other regional carriers and have been rolling that out, and improving their network. Pair that with 600MHz spectrum, and it’ll be even better.
Verizon isn’t too lukewarm on the low-band spectrum because the mid-band spectrum holds more capacity and that’s what Verizon is looking for right now. Hence why Verizon and AT&T participated heavily in the AWS-3 Auction earlier this year, which came in at about $45 billion. In addition to that, Verizon used the 700MHz spectrum to deploy 4G LTE in a number of markets, and the 600MHz and 700MHz spectrum won’t pair well together, according to Verizon’s Fran Shammo. However, Verizon is more focused on 5G right now, as they are slated to have a number of key markets up and running by the end of next year, with their headquarters in New Jersey being up by the end of January.
A pretty bold prediction from the T-Mobile CEO, but one that he can likely hold up. Legere isn’t playing any games when it comes to this incentive auction next year. He knows his company needs this low-band spectrum to keep their momentum alive.