A Visual Guide to 700 MHz
AT&T Mobility just bought some fresh 700 MHz spectrum in the Lower B block, but it owned quite a bit of 700 MHz spectrum even before Auction 73, thanks to the recent purchase of Aloha Partners, which in turn had previously acquired Cavalier Group and DataCom Wireless. Aloha, Cavalier, and DataCom were the three biggest players in Auctions 44 and 49, where they bought most of the important licenses in the Lower 700 MHz C block. (Not to be confused with the Upper 700 C block just purchased by Verizon.)
AT&T also went after a number of smaller existing 700 MHz license holders with names like Harbor Wireless, McElroy Electronics, and even some guy named Scott Reiter. AT&T's purchase of Aloha - together with its spoils from Auction 73 - gave it coverage of most major markets. It took deals with the smaller companies, though, to secure the few remaining key markets like Miami, Des Moines, and Raleigh-Durham.
Now that AT&T has swallowed up all of these companies (or at least their 700 MHz licenses,) and done its thing in Auction 73, its combined B & C block holdings in the Lower 700 MHz band look like this:
AD article continues below...
AT&T 700 MHz Licenses
There are a number of places where AT&T now has both the B and C block licenses in the Lower 700 MHz band. This gives it double the bandwidth - 24 MHz total - in those areas. Such areas include Baltimore, Boston, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Houston, New York, Philadelphia, St. Louis, San Francisco, and Washington.
Chicago, LA, and Miami are key cities missing from that list, because Verizon Wireless out-bid AT&T in those cities. AT&T still has the 12 MHz C block in those cities, but whatever AT&T has planned for its 700 MHz spectrum, it won't have as much capacity for it in those cities.
Both the Lower B and Lower C blocks are divided up by CMAs. By avoiding the Lower A block - which is divided by EAs instead - AT&T kept its 700 MHz holdings a bit simpler by sticking to one system of geographic divisions. That way all of its licenses fit together like a jigsaw puzzle, with no unnecessary overlap.
AT&T hasn't announced what it will do with its 700 MHz spectrum, although LTE and WiMAX seem like the two most likely options.
What is known is that it spent at least $9 billion between Auction 73 and buying Aloha, so it's doubtful it'll let such valuable purchases sit idle for too long.
T-Mobile Says It Will Start Using 600 MHz Spectrum This Year
"T-Mobile now has the largest swath of unused low-band spectrum in the country," said T-Mobile CEO John Legere about the company's 600 MHz auction winnings. The company successfully won an average of 31 MHz (ranging between 20 MHz and 50 MHz) of the 70 MHz low-band spectrum auctioned off by TV stations and the FCC.
FCC Says AT&T Can Buy 700 MHz Licenses from Peoples
The FCC has approved AT&T's request to purchase two Lower 700 MHz C Block licenses from Peoples Wireless in Texas. The transaction gives AT&T 24 MHz of contiguous, paired Lower 700 MHz spectrum in two cellular market areas.
AT&T Seeking 700MHz Spectrum from Peoples Wireless
AT&T has asked the FCC for permission to purchase two Lower 700 MHz C Block licenses from Peoples Wireless in Texas. If granted, AT&T would hold 24 MHz of contiguous, paired Lower 700 MHz spectrum in the two cellular market areas in question.
Verizon's 1900 MHz Spectrum In NYC Now Entirely LTE
Verizon Wireless has completed refarming its 1900 MHz spectrum in the country's largest city, an effort first begun in 2014. The company recently converted the last remaining 10 MHz block from CDMA 3G to LTE 4G, which means Verizon is running LTE on 20 MHz of its Band 2 spectrum in New York City.