T-Mobile could employ 600MHz spectrum from FCC auction as early as next year
T-Mobile says that it will start using so-called incentive auction spectrum by the end of next year. The spectrum is originating from television broadcasters who will no longer broadcast on those frequencies. Instead of waiting for the spectrum to be repackaged and auctioned, some of the broadcasters will sell the spectrum in advance. This is the incentive spectrum that T-Mobile hopes to be using in 2017.
Once the incentive sales are over, the spectrum is packaged for mobile operators to bid on while the television broadcasters are moved elsewhere, That process could take 39 weeks according to the FCC. Still, T-Mobile hopes to employ some of the spectrum it wins even before the repacking plan is complete. The carrier would first look at using this spectrum in rural areas where moving over traffic to new airwaves will be easier to accomplish.
T-Mobile's CFO Braxton Carter notes that 80% of T-Mobile data travels on a 4G LTE pipeline. It seems like it was just yesterday when the carrier launched its 3G service. Carter also pointed out that 52% of T-Mobile's voice calls are VoLTE calls that are run over the carrier's LTE network.
While T-Mobile has been planning this for years, other U.S. carriers like AT&T and Verizon will also be bidding. Sprint is sitting this auction out. Other telecom firms like Comcast and Dish Network might also looking to pick up some spectrum in the hopes of becoming a player in the industry.