T-Mobile has had a ton of success over the last year thanks to its aggressive “Un-carrier” moves that have given subscribers more value for their money and have been imitated throughout the industry. However, the reach of T-Mobile’s wireless network remains a thorn in the company’s side and it looks like it’s going to be very hard to fix.
As The Wall Street Journal notes, T-Mobile got absolutely smoked by AT&T, Verizon and Dish during the FCC’s recent auction for AWS-3 spectrum. In total, AT&T spent $18.2 billion for AWS-3 spectrum licenses, while Verizon spent $10.4 billion and two entities tied to Dish spent $13.3 billion. T-Mobile, in contrast, spent $1.8 billion on licenses, a sum that dwarfs what its major rivals spent.
The AWS-3 spectrum isn’t quite the prime real estate that was up for grabs during the 700MHz auction that T-Mobile never even bothered to bid on back in 2008. So it’s possible that T-Mobile is just saving all of its financial ammunition for the big 600MHz auction that’s set to occur in 2016. That said, we also know AT&T and Verizon will absolutely jump at the chance to gobble up spectrum on that band as well, so T-Mobile has a huge challenge ahead of it.