Verizon Re-farming PCS Spectrum Band June 28, 2013 12:14

Verizon announced yesterday that they will be making their PCS spectrum available for LTE in 2015.  If you are looking at a planning horizon, you could call this LTE Channel #3 for Verizon.  Channel #1 is the 700MHz C Block Channel, Channel #2 is their AWS spectrum holding, and Channel #3 is now their PCS spectrum asset.  Previously Verizon had indicated interest in Clearwire EBS/BRS spectrum which was their Channel #3 at that time, which has passed.

So what does this mean to Verizon and its customers?  First, there are a limited number of markets where Verizon lacks cellular spectrum, so the PCS spectrum carries their voice traffic.  See the Tulsa, OK, Spectrum Grid below:

 In Tulsa, USCellular owns the B-band Cellular spectrum, highlighting a potential acquisition opportunity.  Verizon holds 5MHz of spectrum in the PCS block for their voice services, along with 10MHz of AWS spectrum.

Looking at the contiguous spectrum that Verizon holds in each of the cellular market areas we see that the only market where they can create a 20x20 LTE channel with their PCS spectrum holding is in New York, NY.  For the New York market, Verizon's PCS spectrum holding would permit 4 - 5x5 LTE Channels, or 2 - 10x10 LTE Channels, or 1 20x20 LTE Channel.  Below are the results for Verizon's PCS Spectrum in Cellular markets 1-25.  The fractional LTE channels (e.g. 2.1 - 5x5 LTE in Minneapolis) are caused by summarizing the number LTE channels in each market by averaging the LTE channel count for each county in that cellular market area (CMA).

Below are the results for Verizon's PCS Spectrum in Cellular markets 25-50.  Clearly, deployment of Verizon's PCS spectrum with LTE will not provide as much additional capacity as their Channel #1 and Channel #2 plans, thus Verizon is still spectrum shopping for their 2015 LTE capacity.