Dish Network and at least six other spectrum holders have agreed to let T-Mobile borrow their unused spectrum in the 600 MHz band for 60 days so that T-Mobile can boost capacity on its own 600 MHz network during the Coronavirus pandemic. In addition, T-Mobile has expanded access for Sprint customers to roam onto the T-Mobile network for the next 60 days, which should help expand Sprint’s coverage.
The FCC granted T-Mobile special temporary authority to move ahead with its plans.
According to a T-Mobile press release issued Saturday, the spectrum holders that have agreed to let the company temporarily use their spectrum include Bluewater, Channel 51, Comcast, Dish, Grain Management affiliate NewLevel, LB Holdings and Omega Wireless. An FCC press release issued yesterday adds another spectrum holder to the list – Tstar License Holdings.
T-Mobile said that once the company received FCC approval, it was expected to be able to “rapidly place this additional spectrum into service within days” in certain markets.
T-Mobile Coronavirus Network Expansion
T-Mobile did not immediately respond to an inquiry from Telecompetitor asking for more information about what would determine the areas where the spectrum could be quickly deployed. But the T-Mobile Coronavirus response press release offers some hints.
The company notes that it has “taken steps to ensure remote access to network management systems that will allow us to quickly deploy the additional spectrum,” which suggests that the company will remotely use its network management systems to tell its transmission equipment to use the additional spectrum.
We will publish an update whenever we hear back from T-Mobile.
T-Mobile’s plan to use other licensees’ spectrum for a limited time during a national emergency appears to be unprecedented but would seem to be a good idea. Perhaps we will see other carriers make a similar move, either now or in response to future emergencies.
Of course, the move also should bring the companies involved some good PR. And that could be particularly helpful at a time when T-Mobile is getting set to merge with Sprint – a move that also is expected to benefit Dish Network.
Update- A T-Mobile spokesperson got back to us to confirm that the company can light up the additional spectrum using a remote update. We can make remote updates to the entirety of our 600 MHz network,” the spokesperson said.