After this year’s incentive auction finished in April, the telecoms that acquired the 600 MHz spectrum licenses were expected to take up to three years to transition to the new frequencies. However, T-Mobile has already installed network sites broadcasting in the spectrum bands it purchased. The carrier acquired licenses to the spectrum between 617-652 MHZ and 663-698 MHz. It is currently operating in those frequencies in Wyoming and Maine. According to TVTechnology.com, T-Mobile plans to add more 600 MHz sites in Northwest Oregon, West Texas, Southwest Kansas, the Oklahoma panhandle, Western North Dakota, Coastal North Carolina, Central Pennsylvania, Central Virginia and Eastern Washington, before 2018.
The quick turnaround is taking the former owners of the spectrum by surprise. Television broadcasters and wireless mic users who have been using the spectrum are scrambling to abandon the bands quickly. Mark Bishop, T-Mobile’s senior spectrum manager, requested all relevant parties to cease using the channel blocks by November 1, 2017.
However, the carrier is offering assistance during the repack. Bishop shared, “We wish to minimize interference with the wireless base stations and handsets that will operate in the new band and we want to avoid disruptions to any operations currently in use.” One of the television broadcasters T-Mobile is assisting to relocate is PBS. It plans to cover the costs of local public television low-power facilities forced to relocate, and has promised to assist other stations moving before the three-year schedule. Other equipment providers are offering rebates for equipment made obsolete by the change in ownership of the spectrum licenses, which includes in-ear monitors and other communications systems.
The U.S. Senate is currently reviewing S. 19, the MOBILE NOW Act. The legislation would open even more spectrum below 6 GHz to be used for mobile and fixed wireless services before the end of 2020.
October 23, 2017