How Much Has T-Mobile's EBS License Ownership Changed since the FCC Rule Change? July 14, 2023 09:37

 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.