T-Mobile spending more on 600 MHz build-out than expected

T-Mobile Neville Ray spectrum bands 5G (Mike Dano/FierceWireless)
T-Mobile's Neville Ray said earlier this year that the operator's 5G efforts would make use of its 600 MHz spectrum. (Mike Dano/FierceWireless)

T-Mobile is spending more on its 600 MHz network build-out efforts than Wall Street analysts at Oppenheimer initially expected.

“We spoke with TMUS management, who appeared to be focused on building out its 600MHz spectrum for increased coverage/capacity, the correct route in our opinion, but this will require more capex and we increase our estimates,” they wrote in a report issued to investors Wednesday morning.

Specifically, the firm raised its capex estimates by roughly $200 million for the second quarter to $1.55 billion total.

Overall for 2018 though, T-Mobile executives said the carrier will spend a total of between $4.9 billion and $5.3 billion on its network. Neither T-Mobile nor Oppenheimer changed full-year 2018 capex estimates.

Nonetheless, Oppenheimer’s note indicated that T-Mobile is working to make use of its newly obtained 600 MHz spectrum.

T-Mobile was the big spender during the FCC’s 600 MHz incentive auction of TV broadcasters’ unwanted spectrum; the carrier spent around $8 billion on licenses around the country. Importantly, T-Mobile is the only nationwide wireless operator that purchased 600 MHz spectrum during the event; Sprint never participated in the auction, Verizon said it would participate but then ended up not buying anything and AT&T earlier this year inked a deal to sell off all of its remaining 600 MHz licenses.

RELATED: Editor’s Corner—600 MHz incentive auction ‘extravaganza’ ends with a whimper

But T-Mobile’s position as the only nationwide operator actively building out 600 MHz licenses hasn’t stopped the carrier from making some significant progress. Earlier this month, the operator’s CTO, Neville Ray, tweeted that T-Mobile has switched on 600 MHz operations in 823 cities in 31 states.

Moreover, T-Mobile is also selling phones that make use of the spectrum; Ray tweeted that the new LG G7 ThinQ smartphone is the carrier’s latest to sport 600 MHz connections.

T-Mobile has also said that its 600 MHz licenses will form the basis for its planned move to 5G technology. Earlier this year T-Mobile said Ericsson and Nokia will build a 5G network across the carrier’s 600 MHz, 28 GHz and 39 GHz spectrum in 30 cities—including New York, Los Angeles, Dallas and Las Vegas—during 2018.