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Not just with AT&T, Sprint swaps spectrum with T-Mobile and VZW, too.

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by Tim Yu

Sprint 4G Rollout Updates

Friday, March 4, 2016 - 8:25 AM MST

 

A little over two weeks ago, S4GRU published an article detailing a multi-market PCS 1900 MHz swap between Sprint and AT&T that increased spectrum contiguity for both operators in several markets. In that article, we mentioned how that spectrum swap might be the first of many, as there are numerous other markets in which Sprint and other licensees could mutually benefit by realigning disparate spectrum holdings into larger contiguous stretches for more efficient LTE spectrum utilization.

 

And late last week, that expectation came to the fore. It was discovered that AT&T was not the only dance partner. Rather, T-Mobile and VZW also entered the fray, as Sprint and both operators had contemporaneously filed PCS spectrum assignment applications with the FCC.

 

 

Results of the Latest Spectrum Swap

 

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As seen in the embedded screenshot, Sprint primarily is targeting additional spectrum in the PCS C block. Detailed in our last article, the PCS C block is adjacent to the PCS G block in which Sprint's existing 5 MHz FDD Band 25 LTE carrier is deployed. These swaps pave the way in a greater number of markets for expansion from that 5 MHz FDD carrier to a 10-15-20 MHz FDD carrier and subsequent higher maximum speeds in Band 25.

 

In total, about 50 million POPs so far will be affected by the spectrum transactions in these pending agreements among Sprint and AT&T, T-Mobile, and VZW. Furthermore, this may not be where the story ends. Once the FCC approves these applications, other PCS spectrum realignment among the big four operators may follow. Sprint also may pursue spectrum deals with smaller operators.

 

Stay tuned. S4GRU will have the scoop.

 

Source: FCC (VZW), FCC (T-Mobile), S4GRU (AT&T), S4GRU Spreadsheet

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Great article. It's good to see the carriers actually somewhat work with each other. 

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What do the colors mean?  Yellow is what Sprint ended up receiving?  Green is current holdings?

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What do the colors mean?  Yellow is what Sprint ended up receiving?  Green is current holdings?

 

Green is the G-block so yes that is what Sprint currently owns already.

 

 

There's still a lot of trading to be done.

 

 

That is definitely true.  

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This is great to see. I had always wondered why more and more carriers weren't trading their PCS spectrum to make it more contiguous across their footprint. Being such an old band, it is very random since it's been thru a lot of acquisitions for most carriers. Hopefully they continue trading so all carriers can benefit from more contiguous spectrum, considering all big 4 use it for LTE (band 2/25).

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Good.  Hopefully these get approved asap.  FCC should prioritize these and ask for me spectrum realignment!

 

Whenever this is all said and done, I wonder how much extra usable spectrum will be gained across PCS.  With the reconfiguration I'd imagine the carriers would gain some efficiency in guard band reductions and eliminations.

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Does this mean also Band 25 could be 20Mhz? instead of 5Mhz in markets

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Does this mean also Band 25 could be 20Mhz? instead of 5Mhz in markets

Yep, as soon as they get rid of EVDO and 1x on 1900MHz

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Yep, as soon as they get rid of EVDO and 1x on 1900MHz

 

When ever this might happen..... I still find 1x and EVDO in a lot of cold and far places in Oregon / Washington once you leave the corridor areas. Makes me sad :( 

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When ever this might happen..... I still find 1x and EVDO in a lot of cold and far places in Oregon / Washington once you leave the corridor areas. Makes me sad :(

1x will probably remain until 2020. Probably be limited to 1x 800. Voice will start being offloaded to VOLTE after the network is densified.

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This is great to see. I had always wondered why more and more carriers weren't trading their PCS spectrum to make it more contiguous across their footprint. Being such an old band, it is very random since it's been thru a lot of acquisitions for most carriers. Hopefully they continue trading so all carriers can benefit from more contiguous spectrum, considering all big 4 use it for LTE (band 2/25).

 

Usually it's tough because there is existing consumer traffic on the spectrum so you have to be smart about it.

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Does this mean also Band 25 could be 20Mhz? instead of 5Mhz in markets

Doing these swaps allows Sprint to do 10X10 which allows for up to 75mbps. anything higher they will need to thin out or shutdown CDMA or Buy more FDD spectrum.

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Any idea on timeline of when we will see the additional spectrum added in after the swaps.

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The fcc has to approve it first and we dont know how long thats going to take.

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Any way I can tell the BW I am connected to?

 

I am using SignalCheckPro on a Nexus 5X.

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Any way I can tell the BW I am connected to? I am using SignalCheckPro on a Nexus 5X.

 

Nope, not really.  The EARFCN may give a clue as to carrier bandwidth, but it is not definite.

 

AJ

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Nope, not really.  The EARFCN may give a clue as to carrier bandwidth, but it is not definite.

 

AJ

 

Ok. I was hoping one of the engineering screens would show this but so far I haven't found anything.

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Ok. I was hoping one of the engineering screens would show this but so far I haven't found anything.

 

For that, you need a Samsung or an Apple.

 

AJ

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I hope the FCC hurries up, it seems like these two applications are dragging out longer than the AT&T application. A status of 'I - inactive' isn't reassuring.

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