Friday, March 4, 2016

T-Mobile Acquires More Good Spectrum

A few month ago we gave T-Mobile credit for expanding their coverage across a large part of the country in the 700 MHz spectrum.  The 700 MHz band has superior coverage characteristics which has helped T-Mobile substantially improve performance in rural areas and inside buildings.  This year we have discovered that T-Mobile has completed even more deals for additional 700 MHz spectrum which now gives them majority ownership of the "A" channel of that 700 MHz allocation (subject to FCC approval).  You can view the assignment map for this newly-acquired spectrum on our Cellular Maps 700 MHz web page.

We have long been a fan of T-Mobile's competitive spirit, but this entry into such wide 700 MHz coverage makes them a substantial player.  Sprint, who has slipped into the #4 position among wireless carriers, also has substantial spectrum holdings, but they are located in higher frequency bands which do not carry as far or as deep as the 700 MHz bands.  While Sprint's assignments are adequate for now, their future coverage is in question as they are proposing to move the cell sites to "cheaper" locations.  It's one thing to say you're not going to expand your coverage, it's quite another to imply that coverage may change by moving sites.  let's hope it an idea that isn't carried out.

With T-Mobile settling in on some new spectrum allocations, they should also be able to fill in some of their still-needed territory with the upcoming 600 MHz auction coming later this year.  Sprint needs to move ahead, not cut back.  We still need all 4 carriers to survive and Sprint needs to at least stay above water.  They have been filling some areas with the Sprint Roaming Alliance, but those roaming partners are having even more challenges in staying afloat.

The focus was recently on price and capacity, it's great to see it's now back to more coverage is better.