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Leap, T-Mobile swap AWS spectrum

Mon, 04/09/2012 - 2:07pm
Maisie Ramsay, Wireless Week

T-Mobile USA and Leap Wireless International said today they plan to swap spectrum in a number of markets as they work to find additional bandwidth for their respective LTE networks.

The deal will give Leap an additional 10 MHz of AWS spectrum in Phoenix and Houston, as well as in Galveston and Bryan-College Station, Texas. T-Mobile will get spectrum in markets spanning Alabama, Illinois, Missouri, Minnesota and Wisconsin, where Leap has AWS holdings.

The two operators also plan to exchange spectrum in Philadelphia; Wilmington, Del.; Atlantic City, N.J.; and unnamed markets in Texas and New Mexico.

"These transactions will enhance our spectrum depth in these markets and provide us longer-term flexibility to offer a larger LTE channel," Leap President and CEO Doug Hutcheson said, adding that the deals also will allow it to "re-align spectrum in key markets into contiguous channels."

Financial terms of the arrangement were not announced, and it must be approved by regulators before closing.

Both Leap and T-Mobile are using AWS spectrum for LTE. Leap plans to cover two-thirds of its current network footprint with LTE over the next three years. T-Mobile won't begin lighting up its LTE network until next year and is in the process of re-farming its AWS holdings to supplement the AWS spectrum it gleaned from the breakup of the AT&T merger.

Leap forged a spectrum deal with Verizon Wireless late last year that gave it 12 MHz of 700 MHz A-block spectrum in Chicago, which it plans to use for its LTE service. The transaction is still pending at the FCC. The FCC's spectrum dashboard does not list Leap as having any other 700 MHz spectrum.

Leap recently hired Clearwire to provide it with additional capacity for its LTE service. Clearwire is in the process of building a TD-LTE network designed to provide other operators with supplemental capacity for their own LTE networks in congestion-prone areas.

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