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Verizon, T-Mobile concoct big LTE spectrum swap

Updated Dec 19th, 2018 8:28PM EST

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Verizon and T-Mobile have agreed to swap some critical LTE spectrum licenses on the AWS band, although the deal’s completion depends on Verizon acquiring several spectrum licenses from major cable companies. Under the agreement, Verizon and T-Mobile will swap licenses on the AWS band that spans from 1710MHz to 1755MHz for uplink and 2110MHz to 2155MHz for downlink to patch up weak spots in their LTE spectrum portfolios. For its part, T-Mobile says it “will gain spectrum covering 60 million people — notably in Philadelphia; Washington, D.C.; Detroit; Minneapolis; Seattle; Cleveland; Columbus, Ohio; Milwaukee; Charlotte, N.C.; Raleigh-Durham, N.C.; Greensboro, N.C.; Memphis, Tenn.; and Rochester, N.Y.” while Verizon will get spectrum licenses that cover roughly 22 million people. One potentially awkward aspect of the deal, however, is that T-Mobile has been very aggressive in opposing Verizon’s attempts to acquire AWS spectrum licenses from major cable companies such as Comcast and Cox for around $3.9 billion. It will be interesting to see whether T-Mobile suddenly changes its tune on the proposed spectrum deal now that it’s depending on it for its own spectrum needs. Hit the jump for Verizon’s full press release.


Agreement Enables LTE Expansion and Benefits Customers of Both Companies

BASKING RIDGE, NJ – Verizon Wireless today announced an agreement with T-Mobile USA to exchange specific spectrum in the AWS (Advanced Wireless Services) band.  Under the agreement, both companies also will receive additional spectrum depth in specific markets to meet LTE (Long Term Evolution) capacity needs and enable LTE expansion.  Since this agreement includes spectrum that will be purchased by Verizon Wireless in its transactions with SpectrumCo, Cox and Leap, this agreement is contingent on the closing of those transactions.

The agreement includes a number of intra-market spectrum swaps that will result in better use of the AWS band for both companies.  The agreement also includes exchanges of spectrum between the companies in numerous markets which result in an overall net transfer of spectrum from Verizon Wireless to T-Mobile and a cash payment from T-Mobile to Verizon Wireless.  Financial terms of the agreement are not being disclosed.  The license transfers require FCC approval which is expected later this summer.

“The agreement with T-Mobile is further evidence of the importance of a secondary spectrum market to give companies the flexibility to exchange or acquire spectrum to meet customers’ growing demands for wireless data services,”  said Dan Mead, president and CEO of Verizon Wireless.  “The AWS licenses we’ll acquire from T-Mobile and through SpectrumCo, Cox and Leap will be used to add capacity to our 4G LTE network.”

The agreement between Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile is a private commercial arrangement that will allow both companies to optimize their respective spectrum holdings for LTE deployment and to meet their customers’ needs.

Brad Reed
Brad Reed Staff Writer

Brad Reed has written about technology for over eight years at and Network World. Prior to that, he wrote freelance stories for political publications such as AlterNet and the American Prospect. He has a Master's Degree in Business and Economics Journalism from Boston University.