T-Mobile won big in a recent FCC spectrum auction — coming away with 45 percent of all low-band spectrum sold, the Un-carrier announced Friday.
The Un-carrier was reportedly the top bidder in the recent 600 MHz spectrum auction put on by the Federal Communications Commission. T-Mobile walked away with 31 MHz nationwide, covering 100 percent of the U.S. and Puerto Rico, and bringing the company’s low-band holdings to a total around $8 billion, according to an April 13 press release.
“These auction results are a win for everyone, especially consumers, and generated BILLIONS for broadcasters and US taxpayers,” T-Mobile CEO John Legere said in a vlog discussing the auction results. “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.” In the wake of the FCC auction, T-Mobile now has the largest swath of unused low-band spectrum in the U.S., Legere added. All in all, that spectrum can cover every single American. Additionally, T-Mobile’s low-band spectrum will allegedly be uncrowded, which the company said could mean a slicker and faster experience for consumers.
Low-band 600 MHz spectrum is important for wireless providers, as the spectrum can travel long distances and penetrate buildings, according to Business Insider. Despite that, the nation’s leading wireless giants — AT&T and Verizon — were relatively quiet during the FCC event. The FCC held the first-ever Broadcast Incentive Auction, meant to repurpose spectrum for new users, in March of last year. While the auction results are certainly a big win for T-Mobile, the investment is not without its risks. Some have expressed skepticism over the long-term viability of low-band spectrum, according to Forbes. That’s partly because of low-band spectrum offers less capacity, and the fact that its relevance may decline in the coming years.
Despite that, T-Mobile said it will put the low-band spectrum wins to good use. Some of it is already slated to be used for both T-Mobile and MetroPCS customers. Furthermore, the availability of 600 MHz equipment and Qualcomm-produced chipsets that support the spectrum are expected to ramp up this year, the company said.