T-Mobile cleaned up in the 600MHz auction earlier this year and makes no bones about saying that out loud. It picked up spectrum from what will formerly be TV frequencies in blocks ranging from 20MHz to 50MHz across all of the United States and Puerto Rico. Broadcasters have wanted a 39-month timeline on the transition process, but T-Mobile has consistently said that it would be able to activate its 600MHz towers within this year.
In a recent filing to the FCC, though, the Un-carrier has kept the pressure up on station groups to not overspend and not dawdle on switching frequencies. The company has asked the FCC to quickly disperse monies from an allocated processional fund to broadcasters, but has asserted that broadcasters must transition on schedule with or without the monies. Current cost estimates from stations blow past that allocation by $389 million, but each should be approved based on the merits and in quick fashion, T-Mobile stated. It has itself offered funds to rural PBS stations for making the switches they need.
Related to transition costs, the company is telling the FCC to be wary that the transition funds aren’t being used to buy equipment for ATSC 3.0 — the TV broadcasting standard expected to carry 4K, high frame rate, HDR content over the air. Moving off of 600MHz and moving to ATSC 3.0 are not interdependent tasks related to the 600MHz auction, T-Mobile claims.
Furthermore, it has asked the commission to ignore comments from the National Association of Broadcasters and ION Media in a petition to essentially slacken the schedule for transitioning.