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Friday, October 5, 2012

An Offer from Sprint for MetroPCS?

It is interesting that a Sprint offer would be forthcoming for MetroPCS considering that Sprint walked away from a purchase earlier this year.  As the report below indicates, Sprint's spectrum holding are in the PCS spectrum band including their national PCS G channel while MetroPCS's spectrum holding is primarily in the AWS spectrum band.  Although Sprint and MetroPCS operate compatible CDMA networks and handsets the MetroPCS network would be virtually redundant with the Sprint network except for perhaps 5% of the towers that could be utilized to improve coverage or overload capacity.  Adding MetroPCS' spectrum to Sprint's spectrum holding is a case of 1+1=2 since no new efficiency is found.  Conversely, looking at the merger with T-Mobile, there is an opportunity to create a 1+1=3.  This is possible as I expect T-Mobile and Verizon to rationalize their spectrum holdings in the AWS band allowing each carrier to maximize their channel size across a market in this band.  Once MetroPCS' customer are shifted to T-Mobile's HSPA+ network, the MetroPCS spectrum can be added to the T-Mobile initial 10x10MHz FDD-LTE offering to create a 20x20MHz FDD-LTE channel.  This positions T-Mobile as one of the front runners on LTE channel size in the US.  Only Dish and Clearwire currently have the spectrum holdings to launch a 20MHz wide LTE channel and Dish's opportunity still sits with the FCC and its need to protect the AWS2 spectrum that is also being referred to as PCS H spectrum.  It is likely that Dish will not net the entire 20MHz that they anticipated.

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