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AT & T argues Flo TV spectrum bid makes sense

Mon, 03/28/2011 - 8:05am
Andrew Berg, Wireless Week

AT&T again rebutted calls from Cellular South, Dish Network and the Rural Cellular Association (RCA) that the FCC block the company's proposed $1.9 billion purchase of Qualcomm's now retired Flo TV spectrum.

Cellular South, Dish Network and the RCA contend that the deal for 11 valuable licenses in the lower 700 MHz block would hurt competition in the wireless industry.

In its first filing with the FCC, the RCA argued that the wireless market is "teetering dangerously on the brink of true duopoly" and that allowing the deal between Qualcomm and AT&T to pass would be furthering the problem.

In a statement filed with the FCC on the matter, AT&T claims that the plaintiffs have failed to demonstrate any competitive harm that will occur as a result of AT&T's repurposing of under-utilized lower 700 MHz D- and E-block spectrum.

AT&T continues to argue that the purchase of the Qualcomm spectrum will help "ease the looming spectrum crisis," and that AT&T plans to bond the Qualcomm spectrum with paired spectrum in its LTE network as soon as the standards and equipment using innovative supplemental downlink technology are available, which AT&T expects to occur by 2014.

Further, AT&T argues that a policy that "singles out a carrier's spectrum holdings below 1 GHz for isolated scrutiny will likely distort competition, result in an inefficient use of spectrum and harm consumers."

The spectrum in question would cover approximately 300 million people across the United States. Dish Network has suggested that if the FCC approves the transaction, it should do so under the condition that AT&T be required to divest the lower 700 MHz E-block spectrum.

AT&T says such a condition is unnecessary because the company's post-transaction spectrum holdings will not exceed the FCC's spectrum screen in any of the counties where Qualcomm holds such spectrum.

AT&T has asked the FCC to approve the transaction "quickly and without conditions."

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