Sprint Needs Lower Frequeny Spectrum More than a Modest Amount of 1900 MHz Spectrum

Spectrum to support mobile services has generally become more valuable since the advent of the mobile Internet era. So it is somewhat surprising when any U.S. mobile service provider decides not to bid on spectrum that can be used for Long Term Evolution services.

But that is what Sprint has decided to do about 10 MHz of 1900 MHz “H Block” spectrum adjacent to existing Sprint holdings.

Sprint had widely been expected to be the sole serious bidder, but the move seems linked to broader interest in the upcoming 600 MHz auctions of reclaimed TV broadcast spectrum.

"Sprint is focused on gaining access to more low band spectrum to add to the company's spectrum portfolio, so we have opted not to participate in the upcoming H Block auction,” Sprint said.
Compared to AT&T and Verizon Wireless, Sprint owns relatively small allocations of lower-frequency spectrum. That matters for rural coverage, since lower frequency signals travel further than higher spectrum signals.

AT&T and Verizon own most of the 700 MHz and 850 MHz spectrum in the U.S. mobile market,  while the Sprint's and T-Mobile US networks primarily use the 1700 MHz, 1900 MHz, and 2100 MHz frequencies.

The basic implication is that AT&T and Verizon will tend to have better coverage, while Sprint and T-Mobile US will tend to have higher bandwidth, all other things being equal.

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