On March 29, 2016, the FCC commenced the first-ever “incentive auction” designed to repurpose spectrum for new uses.
The auction preserves a robust broadcast TV industry while enabling stations to generate additional revenues that they can invest into programming and services to the communities they serve.
And by making valuable “low-band” airwaves available for wireless broadband, the incentive auction will benefit consumers by easing congestion on wireless networks, laying the groundwork for “fifth generation” (5G) wireless services and applications, and spurring job creation and economic growth.
Bidding in the auction closed on March 30, 2017, repurposing 84 megahertz of spectrum – 70 megahertz for licensed use and another 14 megahertz for wireless microphones and unlicensed use. The auction yielded $19.8 billion in revenue, including $10.05 billion for winning broadcast bidders and more than $7 billion to be deposited to the U.S. Treasury for deficit reduction.
T-Mobile paid almost $8 billion to acquire 600 MHz spectrum, Dish network committed $6.2 billion, Comcast paid $1.7 billion and AT&T $910 million.
Verizon did not participate in the tender.Fifty companies paid almost $10 billion for airways used by 175 TV stations and they will use this spectrum for wireless networks.
T-Mobile won 45% of all low-band spectrum sold, covering 100% of the US and Puerto Rico and enabling the Un-carrier to compete in every single corner of the country. T-Mobile walked away with a staggering 31 MHz nationwide on average, quadrupling the Un-carrier’s low-band holdings.
T-Mobile is also sharing plans to put that spectrum to use later this year in parts of the country, defying industry expectations.
John Legere, president and CEO of T-Mobile, released a video blog discussing the historic results and what they mean for the next chapter of the Un-carrier.
“These auction results are a win for everyone, especially consumers, and generated BILLIONS for broadcasters and US taxpayers. Congratulations to the FCC!” said John Legere, president and CEO of T-Mobile. “This spectrum sets us up to bring the Un-carrier – and REAL competition – to wireless customers everywhere, many of whom have never had real choices in wireless. If the Duopoly thought things were rough before – well, just wait!”
T-Mobile now owns premium low-band spectrum that can cover every single American. And, most importantly, while the Duopoly’s existing low-band spectrum is already crowded and congested, T-Mobile’s new low-band spectrum will be clear and wide-open for customers, meaning a better, faster experience.
With this purchase, T-Mobile now has significantly more low-band spectrum per customer than any other major provider and nearly TRIPLE the low-band spectrum per customer than Verizon.*
“T-Mobile now has the largest swath of unused low-band spectrum in the country. That is a BFD for our customers!” added Legere. “Because T-Mobile customers will be able to speed on a brand-new, wide-open wireless freeway, while carrier customers have to crawl along on their clogged, congested low-band freeways.”
This additional low-band spectrum means the company will be able to expand its LTE network to compete in every corner of the country, strengthen existing LTE coverage and increase capacity to meet customers’ growing demand for mobile data. Low-band spectrum substantially improves in-building coverage and also travels greater distances than mid-band and high-band spectrum.
T-Mobile is also announcing they’ll put some of this new spectrum to use for both T-Mobile and MetroPCS customers this year, as a result of work started back in 2016. Already Ericsson and Nokia have announced availability of 600 MHz equipment that T-Mobile will use in its network, and the Un-carrier has 600 MHz licenses covering over one million square miles where T-Mobile expects at least 10 MHz to be clear this year – meaning T-Mobile’s network team can start working to light it up for customers.
“T-Mobile’s network is already the fastest, most advanced in the country, and this will take it to a whole new level – and we’ll do it FAST,” said Neville Ray, T-Mobile CTO. “Our team has a history of deploying network technologies at record-breaking pace – including the fastest recorded LTE deployment in US history. We’re ready to break records again on 600 MHz.”
In addition, Qualcomm is introducing chipsets supporting 600 MHz, and T-Mobile expects leading smartphone makers to begin delivering 600 MHz compatible phones as soon as this year.