UPDATE: The T-Mobile announcement has now taken place, and you can learn more about its new WFX services here.
Following the controversial C-band auctions in the United States at the end of 2020, which saw network operators paying billions of dollars for the opportunity to deliver 5G services over the 3.5GHz spectrum, T-Mobile will be presenting its vision for 5G in 2021 and beyond.
The 3.5 GHz band has been earmarked as prime spectrum for 5G services in the US, because it offers a sweet spot between capacity and speed, with the potential to provide a big chunk of contiguous spectrum that will support channels with wide bandwidth. And T-Mobile’s CEO Mike Sievert is keen to outline what the company is planning around 5G following the C-band auction.
In an announcement to the press, T-Mobile publicised its ‘Next Big 5G-Powered Move’ event, taking place on March 4th, with a single sentence overview: “T-Mobile will announce what’s next for the Un-carrier and how the company will continue to change wireless for good in these unprecedented times.”
There's money in spectrum
T-Mobile 5G spent nearly $10bn on spectrum licenses in the FCC's C-band spectrum auction, which, despite being a huge amount, was dwarfed by its competition, with Verizon pledging $45.5bn and AT&T $23.4bn respectively.
However, whilst this gives the impression that T-Mobile was outgunned, the company already had significant spectrum holdings, and used the auction to buy up spectrum in key, heavily populated areas (which cost it $66 million per license, compared to $13 million per license for Verizon, and $14 million per license for AT&T)
T-Mobile was in the position where its merger with Sprint had left it with plenty of rural spectrum, but it had fewer urban spectrum licenses, and had to spend big to win bids in more heavily-populated areas.
The outgoing Federal Communications Commission chairman, Ajit Pai, hailed the multi-billion dollar spectrum auction as a “record-breaking success”, but some fear that the huge amounts being charged for spectrum, on top of the existing infrastructure costs, will handicap US operators as they look to compete globally.
T-Mobile’s CEO Mike Sievert is likely to discuss the C-band auctions during the event, which will take place at 8:30am PT (11:30am ET), March 4th, and can be streamed here (opens in new tab).