T-Mobile US has filed a request for Special Temporary Authority (STA) to access thousands of 2496MHz-2690MHz (2.5GHz) licences it won at auction last year. The filing – which was submitted on 24 March by Steve Sharkey, T-Mobile’s VP of Government Affairs, Technology and Engineering Policy – seeks a 180-day STA from the watchdog. The cellco has taken the unusual step of requesting STA after the US Senate recently allowed the spectrum auction authority of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to lapse for the first time since it was granted in 1994.
The STA filing, which was unearthed by Fierce Wireless, explains: ‘Due to these extraordinary circumstances, the 2.5GHz spectrum for which T-Mobile’s subsidiary was the high bidder at auction seems likely to remain idle for some period – an outcome clearly contrary to the public interest … As the Commission is aware, T-Mobile is already providing 5G services using 2.5GHz spectrum. The spectrum that T-Mobile seeks temporary authority to use is generally spectrally and/or geographically adjacent to spectrum for which it is already authorised and, in most cases, using. In fact, much of the spectrum covered by this request is in “white spaces” – locations where there are spectral or geographic holes between T-Mobile’s licensed spectrum. That means that T-Mobile can quickly initiate use of the spectrum with little to no infrastructure deployment to serve the public – and cease operations at the Commission’s direction if necessary.’ (Note: while the bulk of the requests are US-based, the documentation also includes 19 concessions in Puerto Rico.)
Back in August 2022 T-Mobile US was named the leading bidder in Auction 108, after agreeing to pay USD304.3 million for a total of 7,156 2.5GHz licences. In total, the auction process generated gross proceeds of USD427.8 million.