T-Mobile spends USD3.5bn on additional 600MHz 5G spectrum

11 Aug 2022

T-Mobile US has agreed to buy 600MHz mobile frequency licences from two companies controlled by Columbia Capital covering approximately one-third of the US population for a total of USD3.5 billion. The licences were already being utilised by T-Mobile’s 5G network via exclusive leasing arrangements.

T-Mobile disclosed the purchase agreements to the US Securities and Exchange Commission on 8 August 2022, wherein it agreed to pay USD1.9 billion to Channel 51 License Co and USD1.6 billion to LB License Co. Deal closure is expected within 180 days of regulatory approval (pending), with T-Mobile anticipating a date in mid-to-late-2023. The 600MHz spectrum licences range from 10MHz to 30MHz per market and cover parts of major cities including San Francisco, Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, Tampa, Columbus, Minneapolis, Seattle, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington DC, Dallas, Phoenix, Houston, Salt Lake City, Saint Louis and New Orleans.

TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that 600MHz spectrum underpins the T-Mobile ‘Extended Range 5G’ service currently covering 95% of the US population. T-Mobile was the biggest spender in the 600MHz nationwide auction completed in February 2017, paying USD8.0 billion for 1,525 regional licences, ahead of DISH Network which bid USD6.2 billion for 486 licences. Channel 51 paid USD859 million for eight licences at the auction, while in December 2017 LB License bought AT&T’s entire 600MHz allocation (after AT&T had bid USD910 million for 23 licences).

Fierce Wireless writes that T-Mobile began leasing the extra 600MHz spectrum from the two Columbia Capital-affiliated firms in 2020 to boost capacity during the COVID-19 crisis, signing a three-year paid leasing agreement. T-Mobile has also been leasing 600MHz licences from DISH since the early days of COVID; according to New Street analysts cited by Fierce Wireless, T-Mobile is currently leasing ‘slightly more spectrum from DISH (than from Columbia) at an annual rate of USD56 million.’

United States, T-Mobile US