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Spectrum Blog

Spectrum Deep Tracks - Dish Spectrum Considerations Wed, Jan 17, 2024

I am excited to announce the launch of Spectrum Deep Tracks  - a research series developed in a partnership between SunStone Associates and Spectrum Metrics. 

We felt that there was a gap in the market on how to think about spectrum strategically, as an operator might.  This encompasses not only the technical aspects, but also competitive strategy, regulatory strategy, and valuation.  Operators are not one-dimensional and neither are their views on spectrum.

Spectrum Deep Tracks provides an avenue for Terry Chevalier and myself to engage in complex topics from our collective wireless carrier experiences in auction planning, strategy, corporate development, engineering, operations, and spectrum management.  We utilize tools from Spektrum Metrics to provide measurable data in our analysis. 

Our first collaboration - "Dish's Spectrum Portfolio - An Overview & Considerations" is available now at the Spektrum Metrics website

This first, approximately 60 page, paper explores DISH’s primary wireless spectrum bands to help investors, management consultants, and industry leaders understand the regulatory and historical context of each band, the technical considerations in usage, the key owners in the band, and how to consider value. DISH is often in the news and this will give you relevant information at your fingertips to better understand DISH’s moves.

The bands we discuss include:

 - 600 MHz
 - 700 MHz
 - AWS-3
 - AWS-H
 - AWS-4
 - 3.45 GHz
 - CBRS
 - MVDDS

You can download a free version covering their 700 MHz band here.  The full report is available for purchase at Spektrum Metrics website. 

What other spectrum topics would you want to know more about?  Please comment below this post either in X or LinkedIn.


T-Mobile's 6 Carrier Aggregation and Throughput Tue, Jan 09, 2024

On January 4th, Fierce Wireless posted a story on T-Mobile's six component carrier aggregation test with Ericsson and Qualcomm.  6 Carrier Aggregation, also known as 6CA, is a cutting-edge technology that allows mobile carriers to combine multiple frequency bands to increase network speed and capacity. By aggregating six carriers, T-Mobile can deliver faster download and upload speeds, reduced latency, and improved overall network performance.

What was interesting in the article from a spectrum expert standpoint are the details they included and the details that were left out.  Let's first look at the details that were included:

 - Merged 6 - 5G channels of mid-band spectrum
 - 2 channels of 2.5 GHz spectrum (n41)
 - 2 channels of PCS spectrum (n25)
 - 2 channel of AWS spectrum (n66)
 - Total aggregated spectrum was 245 MHz
 - Throughput (speed test) exceeded 3.6 Gbps
 

I am going to use our current Mobile Carrier - Spectrum Ownership Analysis Tool to determine the markets where T-Mobile has two blocks of PCS spectrum, two blocks of AWS spectrum and two blocks of 2.5GHz spectrum. 

Using the NR Channel Analysis Module, the specific 3GPP channels that are available for T-Mobile's spectrum in a particular county are displayed by NR band.  In the image below, we have filtered to display counties where T-Mobile holds two blocks of n25 spectrum and two blocks of n66 spectrum.

Channel Analysis - FDD Downlink:

This filter also included 2.5 GHz spectrum.  I wanted to find counties with both a 100 MHz channel and a 90 MHz channel to get the maximum throughput.

Channel Analysis - TDD:

I'm not quite sure how they arrived at 245 MHz for the combined spectrum.  If I only look at the FDD Downlink and the TDD spectrum, I can get 245 MHz with the configuration below..  This configuration is available to T-Mobile in 69 counties.

Channel Size (MHz) NR Band
100 n41
90 n41
20 n25
10 n25
20 n66
5 n66
245 Total

 

To get the estimated composite channel throughput values, we have modeled 4x4 MIMO antennas with 256QAM modulation in our Throughput Analysis Tool, which is part of the Channel Analysis Module

Throughput Analysis - FDD Downlink:

Throughput Analysis - TDD Downlink Timeslots:

 

Throughput Summary:

Channel Size (MHz) NR Band Throughput (Gbps)
100 n41 1.736
90 n41 1.558
20 n25 437
10 n25 411
20 n66 556
5 n66 206
245 Total 4.904

 

Although I ended up with a higher throughput than was achieved in the test call, my throughput values are theoretical and would be reduced by real world conditions such as distance to the cell site and the achievable modulation. 


Evaluating the Effects of FCC Spectrum Transactions - Liberty Puerto Rico Fri, Nov 10, 2023

Spektrum Metrics produces a weekly Spectrum Transactions Summary email that details the transactions that were filed that week by wireless carriers at the FCC.  Referring to this recent Transactions Summary, I am going to use Spektrum Metrics' Web Spectrum Viewer to investigate the effect of a series of transactions between Liberty and Claro, focused in the US Virgin Islands.  In the Transaction Summary email we link the FCC maps for all of the transactions where the licenses are disaggregated.  This can be seen in the transaction where part of a 700MHz spectrum license is being assigned from Claro to Liberty.  In this case, the 700MHz A block license includes Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.  The assignment application is only asking for the US Virgin Island license areas (blue) to be transferred to Liberty.

 

To evaluate the effects of this transaction I will use the Web Spectrum Viewer to highlight the spectrum ownership changes for each island.  First looking at the 700MHz spectrum.  Claro's existing spectrum is indicated with PRT and Liberty's spectrum is indicated with LIB.  Acquiring Claro's 700MHz A block will increase Liberty's NR Band 12 Uplink and Downlink from 10MHz to 15MHz.   This will add approximately 120 Mbps to their uplink and downlink speeds.

US Virgin Islands - 700MHz Spectrum Ownership:

Looking at the AWS1 and AWS3 transactions, Liberty will expand their NR Band 66 channels size in two areas.  First, the combination of AWS1 B and C block will provide 1 - 15MHz channel and the AWS3 G and H block combination will provide a new 10MHz channel in NR Band 66.  The purchase of Claro's AWS/AWS3 spectrum increases Virgin's NR Band 66 spectrum from 15MHz to 35MHz.  This spectrum falls into 3 different channels for carrier aggregation.

US Virgin Islands - AWS1/AWS3 Spectrum Ownership:

I will take one addition look at the AWS3 and AWS4 spectrum with the news that Dish is selling its Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands spectrum to Liberty.  With the Dish AWS-3 I block and the AWS-4 spectrum, Liberty will have a contagious block of 45MHz of spectrum in the NR Band 66 downlink.


Evaluating Spectrum Screens by Band Classifications Tue, Oct 24, 2023

Recently the FCC opened a comment period regarding an AT&T petition to establish a mid-band spectrum screen. I thought this would be a good opportunity to look at the spectrum screen components by band classification.
In the table below, we demonstrate how each of the Spectrum Screen values for Spektrum Metrics and the FCC roll up into each of the band classifications.  As a reminder, Low Band spectrum is good for coverage, Lower Midband spectrum balances bandwidth with coverage, and Upper Midband spectrum emphasizes bandwidth with less coverage that Lower Midband spectrum. 
In the far right column, we indicate what the FCC spectrum screen component would be for that particular band.  The historical FCC guideline has been to establish a spectrum screen at 1/3 of the total allotted spectrum.
  
To evaluate each carrier's Spectrum Screen with these band classifications, we updated the Spectrum Screen modules in our Spectrum Ownership Analysis Tool to detail the Spectrum Screen values  for each county and each Cellular Market Area (CMA).
 
County Spectrum Screen:
 
CMA Market Spectrum Screen:
 
In the following 3 charts, we highlight each of the national carrier's Spectrum Screen values for the Top 50 CMA markets by band classification.  You can visualize where the inputted FCC spectrum screen value from the table above would lie relative to each carrier's market values.
 
Low Band Spectrum Screen:
 
Lower Midband Spectrum Screen:
 
Upper Midband Spectrum Screen:

Market Spectrum Screens for the US National Carriers Wed, Oct 11, 2023

The recent news highlighting a FCC proceeding into the spectrum screen referenced, some analysis by Raymond James establishing T-Mobile dominance with 350MHz of spectrum on average in the nation's top markets.

To see how that plays out on a market by market basis, I am going to use the spectrum screen analysis data from Spektrum Metric's Spectrum Ownership Analysis Tool which details the spectrum that applies to the screen for all of the US counties or for all of the US Cellular Market Areas (CMA).  The chart below is for the Top 49 CMA markets by population (2021 estimated population). The markets are sorted from highest population on the left to the lowest population on the right. I have eliminated San Juan, PR because the national carrier's don't have a consistent investment strategy for many of the US territories including Puerto Rico.

 


The Effect of Comcast's 600MHz Spectrum on T-Mobile's Low Band 5G - NR Channel Size Thu, Sep 14, 2023

In Fierce Wireless' article on T-Mobile's initial lease of Comcast's 600MHz spectrum, there were 3 markets highlighted as "required" as part of the purchase agreement.  These three markets are New York City, Orlando, and Kansas City.  In this post we want to examine the effect on the effective Band 71 NR channel size that T-Mobile will be utilizing for their low band 5G network in these markets.

To see all of the markets where Comcast has 600MHz spectrum, we will utilize our Web Spectrum Viewer - Mapping.

Comcast 600MHz Licenses:

A simple way to view the current and the new channel size is to view T-Mobile and Comcast's 600MHz licenses in our Web Spectrum Viewer - Spectrum Grid.

New York PEA Market Licenses:

In the New York market, T-Mobile currently controls 2x15MHz of spectrum enabling a 15MHz uplink and downlink channel.  With the addition of Comcast's adjacent A block spectrum T-Mobile will be able to increase their channel size in the 600MHz band to 20MHz.

Kansas City PEA Market Licenses:

In the Kansas City market, T-Mobile currently controls 2x15MHz of spectrum enabling a 15MHz uplink and downlink channel.  With Comcast's E block spectrum T-Mobile will be able to increase their channel size in the 600MHz band to 20MHz.

Orlando PEA Market Licenses:

In the Orlando market, T-Mobile currently controls 2x10MHz of spectrum enabling a 10MHz uplink and downlink channel.  With Comcast's E block spectrum T-Mobile will be able to increase their channel size in the 600MHz band to 15MHz. 


A Look at USCellular's Spectrum Ownership in Spektrum Metric's Tabular Views Tue, Aug 15, 2023

Previously we looked at US Cellular's Spectrum Ownership via Spektrum Metrics Map Views.  In this post, we will utilize Spektrum Metrics' Mobile Carrier - Spectrum Ownership Analysis Tool to evaluate how USCellular's low band spectrum will fit with the other national carriers.  In the County Analysis tab, we can see each carrier's total spectrum and the amount of low band spectrum.  In this view we used the autofilters to select only the counties where USCellular has spectrum.  This allows us to see how each of the national carriers spectrum assets compare in the counties where they can acquire spectrum from USCellular.  This view reveals that USCellular has very limited overall spectrum in the largest markets.  They have 20MHz of spectrum in one of the Boston CMA counties, and  12MHz in most of the St. Louis counties.

 

When we look at the frequency band information in the same analysis tab, we can see the counties where USCellular's low band spectrum includes cellular spectrum.  We can also see whether AT&T or Verizon is missing cellular spectrum in a county where USCellular's spectrum would fill a need.  Cellular spectrum is critical to both Verizon and AT&T because they have anchored their low band 5G coverage on that spectrum.  To evaluate the strategic plan for USCellular's cellular spectrum further, we are going to copy the data from this table into another Excel tab for further analysis.

Next we want to analyze which counties Verizon would like to acquire the USCellular cellular spectrum, which counties AT&T would like to acquire, and which counties they both would want, meaning neither carrier has cellular spectrum.  After determining which counties align with Verizon and those that align with AT&T, we will calculate the MHz-POPs that each carrier would likely  acquire.  When we bring the county data over, we leave the column that includes the 2021 population for each county along with the appropriate spectrum depth columns..  After identifying the counties where there is a clear desire from AT&T or Verizon for the cellular spectrum, we can calculate the MHz-POPs for each carriers desired acquisition by multiplying the population by the spectrum depth in the "New" columns.

 

In our cellular MHz-POPs analysis, below, subtotals for spectrum Verizon would acquire, AT&T would acquire, and the spectrum that could be acquired by either company are listed.

 
Conclusion:
 Carrier Desired MHz-POPs (Cellular)
Verizon 214,164,150
AT&T 424,149,500
Either 34,827,725

 


A Look at USCellular's Spectrum Ownership in Spektrum Metrics' Map Views Wed, Aug 09, 2023

The news that TDS is exploring "strategic alternatives" for USCellular has created a heightened interest in how our spectrum ownership tools can be used to breakdown the components of USCellular's spectrum to highlight where they would create the most synergies for the remaining wireless carriers.

I want to initially look at the cellular bands, since both AT&T and Verizon are utilizing the cellular bands for their low band 5G.  From the Spectrum Depth Maps below you can see that there are areas in both carrier's footprints that lack a true 5G coverage strategy.

Verizon:

AT&T:

Now, looking at the USCellular map, it is clear that USCellular is the primary cellular licensee after AT&T and Verizon.

USCellular:

It is also helpful to look at our Spectrum Ownership Maps to see how USCellular's spectrum aligns with the two cellular licenses (A and B).  Our Spectrum Ownership Maps show the primary licensee for each channel for every county and territory in the United States.  Each county that a national carrier controls is color-coded with their branding colors.

Cellular A:

The Cellular A map indicates that there are counties in Washington, Oregon, and Northern California that fit perfectly with the overall AT&T A band licenses.  Note:  the white counties are controlled by various smaller carriers which can be identified by "flying" over the county in our Web Spectrum Viewer Mapping Module.

Cellular B:

The Cellular B map indicates the counties in Washington and Oregon that would be a natural fit with Verizon's B channel licenses.

Our next blog with utilize some of the tabular analysis functions from the Spectrum Ownership Analysis Tool starting with an assignment of each cellular county to AT&T or Verizon, concluding with a MHz-POPs quantity for the acquisition of USCellular's cellular spectrum.

 

 


How Much Has T-Mobile's EBS License Ownership Changed since the FCC Rule Change? Fri, Jul 14, 2023

 On July 11, 2019, the FCC released a report and order that provided a pathway to commercial ownership of the 2.5GHz Educational Broadcast Service (EBS) channels that were previously reserved for educational groups.  In this post, I am going to examine the progress that T-Mobile has made in shifting from leasing this spectrum to owning it.

We will be looking at two trends, using historical data from Spektrum Metric's Mobile Carrier - Spectrum Ownership Analysis Tool.  The Mobile Carrier - Spectrum Ownership Analysis Tool is updated monthly and provides historical analysis going back to 2014.

Looking at our Spectrum Ownership Grid in the Web Spectrum Viewer, T-Mobile's control of the EBS spectrum is clearly seen.  This is our Spectrum Grid displaying "Future" data which includes spectrum that T-Mobile leases or has a pending transaction filed.

Spectrum Grid - Future:

Shifting to the Spectrum Ownership Grid to display the spectrum licensee "FCC" reveals the licenses that T-Mobile actually owns.  All of the white cells are educational licenses that likely lease their spectrum to T-Mobile.

Spectrum Grid - FCC:

 

National Weighted Spectrum Depth Trend:

The spectrum available in the EBS and BRS (Broadband Radio Service) bands for each county totals 194 MHz.  If T-Mobile controlled every license in every county their National Population Weighted Average spectrum depth in the 2.5 GHz band would be 194 MHz, thus any amount of below 194 MHz represents another licensees ownership or lease of spectrum in these bands.

After the EBS Auction was completed, T-Mobile's total 2.5 GHz spectrum (orange line) rose from roughly 164 MHz to 180 MHz, indicating that about 14 MHz of Nationally Weighted Spectrum is controlled by other carriers and licensees.  The spike in September 2022 indicates the release of the auction results.

Over the same time period we quantified the spectrum that was directly owned by T-mobile (blue line).  Note:  The EBS Auction results are not reflected in this trend line because T-Mobile has not received direct ownership of the licenses.  In the December 2010 to June 2023 timeframe, T-Mobile increased their ownership of the EBS spectrum by 11 MHz (National Weighted Population Spectrum Depth).

MHz-POPs Trend:
MHz-POPs represent the value of the individual or cumulative licenses.  It is essentially found by multiplying the number of people (population) that can be served by a license times the bandwidth (MHz) of the license.  In the chart below, the orange link represents the cumulative MHz-POPs for all of the EBS licenses that T-Mobile owns and leases while the yellow line represents the EBS licenses that T-Mobile owns.  In December 2020, T-Mobile had 29 Billion MHz-POPs of leased EBS spectrum and over the last 30 months they have converted about 2.5 Billion MHz-POPs of those licenses into owned spectrum.  Again, the EBS auction licenses are not reflected on the Owned EBS trend line since the licenses have not been granted.

 

 


Harmonization of the 3.5GHz Band - North America Tue, May 23, 2023

Last week the US State Department officially requested that CITEL (Inter-American Telecommunications Commission) recognize the 3.3-3.4GHz band as a 5G band in the Americas. 

The member states of CITEL work to unify their efforts to promote and achieve economic and social development with equity.

This request provides a great opportunity to evaluate how three of the countries in CITEL have allocated their 3.5GHz spectrum.  To look at the existing and future spectrum allocations in the United States, Canada, and Mexico I will use Spektrum Metrics' Spectrum Ownership Analysis Tool for each country.  

The first thing that we can see is that both the US and Canada have either allocated or auctioned C-band spectrum (3700-3980MHz).  Canada's C-band channel plan utilizes 10MHz channels while the US plans uses 20MHz channels. Canada's C-band allocation actually incorporates the 50MHz GAA channel of the spectrum that the US uses for CBRS which will create operational issues in border areas like Vancouver BC/Bellingham WA and Windsor ON/Detroit MI.  There could be issues from usage in Toronto that would affect the upper CBRS channel in northern New York state.

Canada recently auctioned 3450MHz to 3650MHz which will put fully powered licensed operations on the remaining CBRS channels including all of the PAL licenses.

Mexico has not allotted their C-band spectrum yet, but they have repurposed the 3450MHz to 3600MHz bands.  Similarly I would expect border interference with the 5 CBRS channels that overlap the full power licensed channels in Mexico.  Issues in San Diego, El Paso, and Brownville could be caused by this joint operation at the border.

So I have highlighted several incompatibilities between the US allocations and Canadian allocations along with incompatibilities between the Mexican allocations and US allocations so it should be clear why this State Department request is critical.  The request is necessary to create the only band of spectrum utilized and licensed in a similar manner between all three countries since this spectrum has only been allocated for auction by the Mexican authorities (IFT).  I believe that it is critical that this spectrum is fully licensed spectrum (not shared spectrum) so it can harmonize usage at the borders for all three countries.

United States - 3.5GHz Band Plan:

Canada - 3.5GHz Band Plan:

Mexico - 3.5GHz Band Plan:


Looking at Industry Access to the CBRS PAL Spectrum in Spektrum Metrics' Web Spectrum Viewer Tue, May 09, 2023

Recently I supported a colleague with some analysis of the CBRS PAL licenses for an OnGo conference.  With his permission I am providing a few of the interesting outtakes from our analysis.  All of this analysis is based on Spektrum Metrics current (April 2023) spectrum data which includes all of the transactions that have occurred since the CBRS auction.  To start the analysis, I categorized each of the 245 PAL licensees in our spectrum database into industry categories representing their business focus and their plans for spectrum utilization.  The chart below represents the percentage of PAL licenses controlled by each industry as measured in MHz-POPs.

CBRS Priority Licenses - Industry Breakdown:

The second factor I analyzed was forecasting how the spectrum would be used between mobile usage or fixed wireless.  I assumed that the Cable, National, Regional and Rural industries would utilize CBRS for mobile networks while the remaining industries would focus on fixed wireless.  Again, the percentages represented in the chart below are based upon the MHz-POPs forecasted for mobile and the MHz-POPs forecasted for fixed wireless.

CBRS Priority Licenses - Anticipated Use:

My last analysis was focused on the Utility industry, which includes oil, power, water and manufacturing.  Our focus on this sector was to determine where the utility sector spectrum was controlled an how much spectrum is controlled.  This is an easy output from the Web Spectrum Viewer - Mapping module.  Only the CBRS spectrum is counted in the maps below.

Columbia Energy:

Chevron U.S.A.:


Federated Rural Electric Association:


Hawaiian Electric Company:


Illinois Electric Cooperative:


Deere & Company:


Alabama Power Company and Southern Linc:


Muscatine Power and Water:


Oxy USA:


Pioneer Natural Resources:

Ravalli County Electric Cooperative:


Southern California Edison Company:


San Diego Gas and Electric Company:

Tampa Electric Company:


Spektrum Metrics includes the Results of Canada's Residual Spectrum Auction Tue, Apr 25, 2023

With our April 2023 release of the Canadian Mobile Carrier - Spectrum Ownership Analysis Tool, we are reflecting the results from the recently completed Auction of Residual Spectrum Licenses.

 

Frequency Band  Number of Licenses
600 MHz 5
2500 MHz 6
3500 MHz 16

 

 Below are pie charts that reflect the new Frequency Band Ownership values.  These ownership values are calculated using the national MHz-POPs values for each carrier.


Viewing Starry's Bankruptcy Licenses on Spektrum Metrics' Web Spectrum Viewer Tue, Apr 18, 2023

Last week, an involuntary assignment application was filed resulting in Starry Spectrum's licenses being assigned to Starry Group Holdings, Inc., Debtor-in-Possession.  This assignment change was put into motion by Starry's February 20, 2023 Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.   

In the involuntary assignment application, Starry lists their 104 - 24GHz license that they are seeking to retain, along with the lower 37GHz experimental licenses that they currently hold.  

To see markets included in each of these groups of licenses, we will utilize the mapping features from our Web Spectrum Viewer.  In the first map, we see Starry's Total Millimeter Wave held spectrum.

Total Millimeter Wave Spectrum

 

Following that we can choose to see just the 24GHz held spectrum.

24GHz Spectrum

 Last, we can choose to display the spectrum that Starry controls in the 37/39GHz band.  Looking at the legend, all of these licenses are 600MHz meaning they are the experimental licenses rather than the auctioned upper 37/39GHz licenses.

37/39GHz Spectrum


Visit Spektrum Metrics at MWC-Barcelona Thu, Feb 09, 2023

Spektrum Metrics will be exhibiting at the Mobile World Congress – Barcelona.  Stop by to see how our spectrum ownership tools enable you to understand each country’s spectrum allocation, the detailed assignments for each carrier, and each carrier’s market coverage and capacity capabilities.

Hall 5 – Booth 5G51
February 27 – March 2, 2023
Barcelona, Spain

 If you would like to set up a meeting time, please submit a request here.


New EBS Whitespace Auction Licenses Tue, Jan 31, 2023

On December 1, 2022 the FCC began granting the new EBS licenses to the winning bidders from Auction 108.  Since many of these licenses are not for complete counties or for the entire auction channel size, I thought it would be useful to see how these licenses appear on the FCC licensing system.

For an example, I have chosen the first auction channel (C1) for Iowa county, Wisconsin, which was purchased by Michigan Wireless.

The map for this license shows all of Iowa county highlighted and all of the C1 frequencies highlighted as well.  (If the images are too small to read all of the details, right click on the image and select <Open image in new tab>.

Now looking at the market tab, we will focus on the information at the bottom of the screen.  First, all of the 9 component channels (A1, A2, A3, B1, B2, B3, C1, C2, C3) are listed above the county with a full county population value.  This would indicate that this license is authorized to cover all 23,687 people living in Iowa county, WI.

 

Looking back at our outputs from the EBS Whitespace Auction Tool, we can see that representing this license as a complete county license for all of the component channels is not correct.

In our Population Percentage output, it is clear that Michigan Wireless did not purchase the rights to use the B1, B2, and B2 component channels because they were leased to T-Mobile through their lease with the State of Wisconsin -Educational Communications Board.  It is also clear that 3% of the county's population cannot be covered with the A1, A2, and A3 component channels.

 

To see these numbers as raw population values, we will look at our Population output.  In this view you can see the population that is licensed for each component channel and the only channels that cover the complete county population are the C1, C2, and C3 channels.

 

To be accurate, the FCC's market page should be updated to show the actual population available for each channel as seen below:

With the maps updated to show the actual license area for each component channel.

2502.0-2507.5, 2507.5-2513.0, 2513.0-2518.5 MHz (A1,A2,A3):

 

2518.5-2524.0, 2524.0-2529.5, 2529.5-2535.0 MHz (B1, B2, B3):

2535.0-2540.5, 2540.5-2546.0, 2546.0-2551.5 MHz (C1, C2, C3)

 


Allnet Insights & Analytics is becoming Spektrum Metrics Thu, Jan 26, 2023

Allnet Insights & Analytics is becoming Spektrum Metrics to better reflect our core focus on Spectrum Research and Analysis. The word Spektrum highlights our multi-national focus with the spelling used by the most languages and Metrics underscores the quantifiable outputs provided by our tools.

Spektrum Metrics will continue to provide our industry leading spectrum ownership analysis tools and research reports to wireless carriers, financial entities, infrastructure providers, and equipment suppliers.  These tools and reports detail how each country has allocated their spectrum for commercial wireless carriers and how each carrier’s ownership interest may vary by geographic area.  Our spectrum data and analysis tools detail each carrier’s spectrum ownership for the entire country, level 1 regional areas (states), and level 2 regional areas (counties).


How do the Auction 108 results affect 2.5GHz spectrum pricing? Fri, Sep 23, 2022

Since the auction results were posted on September 1st, there have been many discussions about how the purchase prices from the auction relate to the secondary market pricing.

Typically, when you are buying a spectrum license you are getting a contagious block of spectrum covering a complete geographical area, like a county or a group of counties. By purchasing a particular license, the owner knows that a wireless network can be designed to provide coverage to the entire market area, meaning the market area’s population can be provided with a revenue generating service.

What is the appropriate price for a license? After an auction, you will typically see a valuation ($/MHz-POP) from the auction that represents the national average price. Prices are calculated by multiplying the size of the spectrum (MHz) by the population (POP) available in the license area. The purchase price in dollars is then divided by the MHz-POPs quantity for the license. Highly populated markets or counties are purchased at a premium compared to the national average price and the lower populated markets are purchased at a discount to the national average price. Below is an example of this pricing range from the CBRS (Auction 105).

CBRS Auction Pricing:

Market Population (2021) $/MHz-POP
Kings County, NY 2,641,052 $1.22
Scott County, MN 153,268 $0.48
National Average $0.21
Crowley County, CO 6,012 $0.17

 

With this spectrum license value framework in place, let’s look at four types of licenses that were available in Auction 108 and how their purchase price (bid) and valuation compared.  In each of these examples we provide outputs from our EBS Auction Tool which more clearly indicates what the licenses include and does not include.  The Population % chart indicates the percentage of the total county population that can be served by each subchannel of the auction channel.  The Population chart indicates the raw population that is available in the license areas for each subchannel of the auction channel.  The whitespace maps indicate the available whitespace license area.

Complete County - Benzie, MI:

The Benzie County C1 license (49.5MHz) provides the winning bidder with the opportunity to provide roughly a 50MHz channel of wireless service to all of the people living in Benzie County.  Because there aren't any encumbrances, the auction valuation is probably valid for this license.

County Whitespace Population % by Subchannel:

County Whitespace Population by Subchannel:

County Whitespace Map:

Auction License Valuation:

Encumbered County - Los Angeles, CA:

The Los Angeles County C1 license provides the auction winner with the rights to service about 136,000 people with wireless service using the full 49.5MHz of spectrum. The served population is at the northern and southern extremes of the county. An addition 210,000 people can be served with only the B channels in the area directly below the Ventura county line.  These are the only areas that the bidder can construct a wireless network using these channel.  This license sold for the minimum bid price, which was based primarily on the full county population not the available whitespace population.  I would not view this as a valid license valuation.

County Whitespace Population % by Subchannel:

County Whitespace Population by Subchannel:

County Whitespace Map (A channels):

 County Whitespace Map (C channels):

Auction License Valuation:

 

No Population County - Cameron, TX:

The Cameron County C1 license only covers a rural unpopulated area of South Padre Island.  This license was purchased for the minimum bid price and its valuation can not be calculated.

County Whitespace Population % by Subchannel:

County Whitespace Population by Subchannel:

County Whitespace Map:

Auction License Valuation:

No Bids County - Cook, IL:

The Cook County C1 license did not receive any bid.  Because the FCC's minimum bid was based on Cook County's total population.  In this case, the license only provided access to 220 people in a whitespace sliver in the northeast corner of the county.  The FCC's minimum bid would have garnered a $206/MHz-POP valuation so it is no surprise that no bids were received.

County Whitespace Population % by Subchannel:

County Whitespace Population by Subchannel:

County Whitespace Map (B and C channels):

Auction License Valuation:

Conclusion:

In the chart below we have summarized the valuations for the four types of licenses that we have examined.  It is clear that the licenses in Auction 108 are not homogeneous and have unique license challenges that must be investigated individually.  These challenges drive wide swinging valuations.  In addition, the FCC's minimum bids skewed both the bidding activity (purchasing licenses with no population or overpricing licenses with limited population) and the valuation process

 


Which Licenses will T-Mobile Get from Columbia Capital? Thu, Aug 25, 2022

A little over a week ago, T-Mobile announced that they were purchasing additional 600MHz spectrum from Columbia Capital.  Immediately, we began receiving phone calls to determine which markets T-Mobile would be increasing their 600MHz spectrum holdings.  Unfortunately, the FCC application for this transaction has not be filed so our best view into these licenses is found by finding the licenses that T-Mobile is currently leasing from Columbia Capital.

Looking first at the Spectrum Grid in our Web Spectrum Viewer, we can see the markets and the channels that Columbia Capital controls.  Our Spectrum Grid can display 3 types of spectrum ownership data:  1) The license owner (FCC), 2) The current operator (Current), or 3) The Future Owner.  In this example we want to find the spectrum that Columbia Capital owns, so we are choosing FCC in the filters.

 

 
In this view, we can see that Columbia Capital (COL) controls 600MHz spectrum in Los Angeles, Chicago, and Philadelphia.  Clicking on any of the COL cells provides detailed information for that spectrum block in the licensee, call sign, lessee, and lease ID.
 
From this image we can see that one of the Columbia Capital licensee names is Channel 51 License Co.    The other licensee name is LB License Co.  
The easiest way to find T-Mobile's 600MHz leases is to utilize the Transactions module.  In the image below, you can see the filters we applied to our Transactions database to get an output of T-Mobile's 600MHz leases with Channel 51.  These are the licenses that will likely be included in the first half of the Columbia Capital transaction.  This transaction query can be exported to Excel and is available for download at the link below.
Channel 51 Leases
In the image below, you can see the filters we applied to our Transactions database to get an output of T-Mobile's 600MHz leases with LB License Co.  These are the licenses that will likely be included in the second half of the Columbia Capital transaction.  This transaction query can be exported to Excel and is available for download at the link below.
LB License Leases

Spectrum Reductions due to CBRS Consent Decree Tue, Aug 09, 2022

Previously we have written about the CBRS Consent Decree between the FCC and SAL Spectrum, Cable One, NorthWestern Corporation, US Cellular Corporation, and Shenandoah Cable Television.  Each of these CBRS auction winners had an investment from Black Rock, Inc greater than 10% interest.  Below are charts that reflecting each carrier's auction winnings, the licenses that they requested following the consent decree, and changes to each carriers market assignments. 

Looking at the Combined Blackrock from the Auction Results table, there are many markets where the combined group has auction spectrum allotments of 60MHz.  In the Updated License table, many markets went from being above the 40MHz limit to being below the 40MHz limit.  This is primarily due to SAL Spectrum (ATNI) declining any spectrum assignments in virtually all of these markets.

The last column to highlight is the GAA Increase column in the Change table.  This column reflects the net increase in GAA available spectrum in each market since the FCC is not planning to reauction this spectrum since it can still be utilized through the GAA usage process. 

 Arkansas and Illinois:

 

Missouri:

 

Maryland, Montana, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin:


Markets Affected by the CBRS Consent Decree Tue, Jul 26, 2022

Last week the FCC announced a consent decree with SAL Spectrum, Cable One, NorthWestern Corporation, U.S. Cellular Corporation, and Shenandoah Cable Television.  Each of these carriers was a winning bidder in the CBRS auction and they each have Black Rock, Inc. as an owner holding more than 10% interest. Because of the common ownership, these collective companies should have been limited to 40MHz of spectrum in the auction.  There are 80 license areas (counties) where the collective group exceeds 40MHz.  To identify those counties, we can use Spektrum Metrics Insights' Spectrum Ownership Analysis Tool to display side by side, each of the affected carriers spectrum holdings for each band, including the CBRS band.  Summing up the CBRS holdings and filtering for values greater than 40 provides the identity of each county involved in the consent agreement.  Below is a table representing a subset of that analysis.

 

Below is a mapping highlighting all of these markets.

We have included maps below from our Web Spectrum Viewer that reflect the h CBRS auction winnings for each of the collective carriers prior to the consent decree.

Atlantic Tele-Networks (SAL Spectrum):

Cable One:

NorthWestern Corporation:

US Cellular:

Shenandoah Cable Television:


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