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Here are AT&T and Verizon’s plans for their C-Band spectrum


Recently, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) held an auction for its C-Band radio spectrum. And of course, the major carriers did their best to outbid each other. Verizon was most notable at the auction since it purchased $45 billion worth of C-Band radio spectrum. Meanwhile, AT&T and T-Mobile spent $23.4 billion and $9.3 billion, respectively. And now, we’re getting word on what AT&T and Verizon intend to do with their recent spectrum purchase. 

AT&T today revealed its plans for its newly acquired C-Band radio spectrum. In its announcement, the company revealed that they plan to start “deploying the first 40 MHz of this spectrum by the end of 2021.” The company purchased a total of 80 MHz of the spectrum. 

The company will be spending $6-8 billion in building the enhanced 5G network through 2024. Once it starts deployment, C-Band will be able to cover 70-75 million people before the end of 2022. And in 2023, the company is confident that that number will reach 100 million. 

Aside from its C-Band spectrum, AT&T will continue deploying its mmWave 5G network to 17 new sports venues and seven new airports. As of this writing, AT&T is only using 70% of its existing low- and mid-band spectrum. But it has plans to deploy the remaining 30% in the next few years. 

Meanwhile, Verizon told investors this week what it intends to do with the spectrum it purchased at the recent auction. This spectrum will be used to deploy mid-band 5G, which will fill an important gap in its 5G network. Right now, Big Red offers low-band 5G with broad coverage for free to its customers. Unfortunately, the data performance of this coverage has been barely better than 4G. 

Verizon also offers “Ultra Wideband” 5G service that makes use of mmWave frequencies. While this offers very fast data, it has limited coverage. Ultra Wideband is currently offered to customers on pricier unlimited plans. So when Verizon deploys its new C-Band 5G service, it is likely going to be priced at a premium rate. But then again, this will offer a balance of coverage and data speeds. 

Following this announcement, Verizon told its investors that the new phones it will launch from then on will support C-Band (band 77). Verizon will be spending $10 billion in the next three years to build infrastructure that supports its C-Band 5G network.