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Here is why T-Mobile's new spectrum license is a big deal

The licenses could have an immediate impact on T-Mobile's service.
By
December 14, 2023
T Mobile logo on sign
Kris Carlon / Android Authority
TL;DR
  • The House of Representatives has passed the 5G Spectrum Authority Licensing Enforcement Act.
  • This act requires the FCC to release the 2.5GHz licenses it auctioned off in 2022, of which T-Mobile won the vast majority.
  • The 2.5GHz licenses would allow T-Mobile to upgrade its service to more than 50 million customers and offer in-home broadband service to 3 million households.

Back in 2022, the FCC auctioned off around 8,000 2.5GHz licenses. After spending about $304 million on the auction, T-Mobile won the vast majority of those licenses, but the FCC ended up keeping the licenses anyway. A new act that passed on Monday, however, may force the FCC to give T-Mobile the licenses it purchased, finally.

According to Fierce Wireless, the US House of Representatives passed a bill called the 5G Spectrum Authority Licensing Enforcement (SALE) Act. The act would demand that the FCC release the 2.5GHz licenses it auctioned off last year.

Once T-Mobile finally gets its hands on these licenses, it could have a significant impact on its service. According to the outlet, Blair Levin, a New Street Research policy analyst, claims that the licenses would enable T-Mobile to upgrade its service to over 50 million customers instantly. It would also allow the company to provide in-home broadband service to 3 million households.

“The passing of the 5G SALE Act in the House today is a big win for US consumers,” Tony Russo, VP of federal government relations for T-Mobile, said in a statement shared on X (formerly Twitter). “The path is now clear for the FCC to release all T-Mobile 2.5GHz licenses and connect millions of Americans to high-speed internet.”

As to why the FCC held on to the licenses, the issue appears linked to the FCC auction authority. In March, the auction authority lapsed for the first time ever, taking away the agency’s ability to conduct auctions. FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel asserted that due to this lapse, she was prohibited by law from giving the licenses away.