One information that is pretty hard to come by is which carrier in any one country holds what kind and how much spectrum. I've always been wondering if the coverage and speed situation in the US is perhaps due to too little spectrum available but the best I could do so far was summing up the available capacity per band. For details look here. How much each carrier has available, though, can't be derived from that. But recently, I've come across this interesting paper that shows how much spectrum each US carrier has available and in which band in table 5.
Let's take AT&T for example and compare that to the spectrum available to, lets say, Vodafone in Germany:
- In the 850 MHz band AT&T 2x12.5 MHz available, which compares directly to the 2x12.5 MHz (uplink/downlink) Vodafone has available in the 900 MHz band. While Vodafone uses the complete spectrum for GSM, AT&T runs both GSM and UMTS over the band.
- In the 1900 MHz band AT&T has 2x10 MHz available and uses it for GSM and UMTS service. This compares to the 2x10 MHz Vodafone has available in the 2100 MHz band it uses for UMTS services + 2x5 MHz in the 1800 MHz band used for GSM. In other words, Vodafone has a bit more spectrum, but not that much).
- AT&T has 2x7.5 MHz in the AWS (1700/2100) MHz band that I assume it doesn't use at the moment.
- And finally, AT&T has 2x15 MHz in the 700 MHz digital dividend band. That compares to the 2x10 MHz Vodafone has in the 800 MHz band after the auction last year.
In other words, so far, the two carriers have about the same amount of spectrum in comparative frequency bands (and could hence offer the same quality in terms of coverage and speed).
Interesting twist relevant for the future: Vodafone has an additional 2x20 MHz in the 2600 MHz band it got during the spectrum auctions in 2010 for their LTE network. And I am sure they will put to good use.