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In order for cellular carriers in the US to roll out coverage, they need approval from the FCC. This approval is usually granted through the process of spectrum auctions, where the FCC puts allocations up for bids from companies.

Almost two years ago now, T-Mobile won a ton of spectrum in FCC’s Auction 108, but because of expiring legislation and congressional deadlocks, T-Mobile hasn’t been able to do anything with its winnings.

Seeing as a big part of the FCC’s job is to license radio frequencies for companies and individuals to use, it may seem weird that they were unable to give T-Mobile the spectrum allocations they won. Apparently, though, the FCC had an authorization from Congress to issue these licenses, which expired before T-Mobile could be granted anything from Auction 108. Thanks to the current state of US politics, it took until last December for the FCC to regain its ability to hand out licenses.

Even then, it wasn’t certain when T-Mobile would actually be able to start using its spectrum from Auction 108. The FCC is a government body after all, so there was plenty of paperwork and bureaucracy to go through (on top of a backlog of other authorizations that had been stalled). Finally, though, T-Mobile has announced that they’re enabling this new spectrum over the next few days nationwide.

Auction 108 was for spectrum allocations in the 2.5GHz band, which is 5G band 41 in T-Mobile’s case. This is part of “5G Ultra Capacity”, as T-Mobile calls it, and has been a big part of their 5G rollout, especially in denser areas that experience a lot of congestion.

“Ultra Capacity” is probably overselling the capability a bit, but it’s no secret that 5G band 41 is fast. With its new spectrum, T-Mobile can increase capacity in existing coverage areas or even expand coverage.

We’ll have to wait and see what the real-world effects of the new spectrum are, but hopefully it means faster speeds and fewer dead-zones for anyone using the T-Mobile network. It may even allow for more areas across the country to become eligible for 5G Home Internet.

If you’re curious where T-Mobile is authorized to roll out new spectrum, check out this interactive map, which tells you how much bandwidth T-Mobile got for each county in the US.

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