DISH Network is leasing 600 MHz spectrum to T-Mobile to help the “uncarrier” support the increase in data usage on its network. A stipulation as a part of the T-Mobile/Sprint merger, both parties were unable to agree though it was a requirement. The Department of Justice (DoJ) has stepped in and ensured that the agreement was met by both parties.
Americans need more data. With the shift due to COVID-19, more and more people are working and learning from home via the Internet and networks are having to keep up with this extra demand for broadband. A solution that has become more common is the practice of leasing spectrum so that carriers may boost their networks. But the deal between DISH and T-Mobile could strike a nerve with another wireless giant, Verizon, who has already disputed T-Mobile over spectrum that wasn’t included on the spectrum screen earlier this year.
The spectrum screen was created by the FCC as a measure to prevent any one wireless company from monopolizing a marketplace through the secondary market. An added piece to this complicated puzzle is that Verizon has also already disputed spectrum that T-Mobile now owns. Over the summer, T-Mobile completed its merger, and with it came a range of mid-band spectrum from Sprint that was once contested by Verizon back in 2014. The 2.5 GHz band is a great boost for T-Mobile’s network as it is already nationwide but is powered primarily on low-band spectrum.
The terms of the spectrum lease have yet to be announced but analysts from LightShed believe the deal should be under $100 million a year. The money raised will be used on DISH’s 5G network build and will help it fulfill its new mandatory date of supplying 75% of the population with its 5G network by June 14, 2025. This leasing deal is not dependent on DISH finishing its buildout and the spectrum can be used immediately.
Everything that is unfolding is setting the stage for an interesting December. The C-band auction is fast approaching and with the industry expecting Verizon and AT&T to spend some serious cash on bids, this lease could increase the competition. The spectrum screen is a measure but it does not directly measure competition in wireless markets. While it is likely that DISH’s lease will push T-Mobile over on the spectrum screen, the lease will only account for 30% of the population. It is also only in 20% of the top ten markets and seven of the top 20. Should T-Mobile not be allowed to bid this winter, it could pave the way for Verizon and even DISH to add to their mid-band spectrum catalogs.
Source: Fierce Wireless