Published: Sat, April 15, 2017
Life&Culture | By Kristin Armstrong

Mobile just won the keys to supercharging its network

Dish, through acquisitions and participation in an earlier auction, has amassed a trove of airwaves, and has said it intends to build a wireless network. In addition, the 600 MHz frequencies provide longer range coverage and superior building penetration characteristics compared to frequencies above 1 GHz, which is where T-Mobile's service frequencies were concentrated. The company "just cleaned up", its CEO, John Legere, tweeted.

In addition, current smartphone models do not support 600 MHz, though Qualcomm, the world's biggest supplier of modems for smartphones, is preparing new chips to support the frequency. With its newly acquired spectrum, however, T-Mobile now has the opportunity to close the gap in terms of coverage with AT&T and Verizon, and then bank on superior offers to grab a larger share of the subscriber market.

Following the auction, there will be some big changes to many TV stations. According to T-Mobile, it means that the carrier will be able to cover 100 percent of the United States and Puerto Rico with its network.

"The broadcasters showed up and, except for T-Mo, the carriers did not", said Preston Padden, a former Disney executive and a broadcast industry advocate.

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Dish Network spent $6.2 billion on wireless airwaves.

The FCC has published the raw results of the new spectrum auction here; you can search by market name, which will likely be your nearest big city, to see which wireless carrier bought spectrum where. The result? One of the highest grossing auctions ever conducted by the FCC, with a total gross revenue coming in at a whopping $19.8 billion. T-Mobile's win is a turnaround from January 2015, when AT&T and Verizon Wireless dominated a $41.3 billion auction. "With this purchase, T-Mobile now has significantly more low-band spectrum per customer than any other major provider and almost TRIPLE the low-band spectrum per customer than Verizon", T-Mobile states. The former already owns plenty of unused spectrum, while the latter just partnered with Verizon on its own MVNO-based mobile network, and doesn't have enough 600MHz spectrum to augment it.

The enormous investment places T-Mobile in the position to further challenge, and possibly outmuscle, telecommunications industry rivals AT&T and Verizon. A total of 14 megahertz of spectrum is available for unlicensed use and wireless microphones. Comcast also spent some money for licenses in the 600MHz auction. That cost the nation's third largest carrier the princely sum of $7.9 billion (don't be surprised if the next few T-Mobile Tuesday freebies are restricted to PBJ sandwiches). U.S. Cellular, for instance, will have to pay the $329 million it agreed to spend for 188 licenses.

"We had expected Dish to be a de minimis player in the auction", he said.

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