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Verizon to sell A-block, B-block spectrum licenses

Wed, 04/18/2012 - 1:55pm
Andrew Berg, Wireless Week

Verizon Wireless today announced plans to sell off its 700 MHz A-block and B-block spectrum licenses but said it's all contingent on approval of its bid to purchase AWS licenses from the likes of SpectrumCo, Cox Communications and Leap Wireless, which is currently under close scrutiny by regulators.

The carrier said the licenses cover dozens of major cities across the country, as well as a number of smaller and rural markets. A-block licenses include major metropolitan markets such as New York, San Francisco and Atlanta, among others. B-block includes cellular markets in Los Angeles, Chicago and Miami, among others.

Molly Feldman, vice president of business development for Verizon Wireless, said the company believes its 700 MHz licenses will be attractive to a wide range of buyers.

“Moreover, provided our acquisition of AWS spectrum is approved, our open sale process will ensure these A and B spectrum licenses are quickly and fairly made available for the benefit of other carriers and their customers,” she said.

Verizon Wireless obtained the 700 MHz A and B licenses, as well as nationwide 700 MHz upper C licenses, in FCC Auction 73 in 2008. The company is deploying its LTE network on its nationwide 700 MHz upper C spectrum. Verizon hopes to acquire additional AWS (Advanced Wireless Services) spectrum licenses, which it will use in conjunction with its 700 MHz upper C-band spectrum to deploy additional LTE capacity.

Sale of the A and B licenses is contingent on the close of Verizon Wireless’ pending $3.9 billion purchase of AWS licenses from SpectrumCo (an entity jointly owned by Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks), Cox and Leap Wireless.

Both T-Mobile and MetroPCS have asked the government to block the transaction because it would result in what they characterize as "excessive concentration" of spectrum in Verizon's control, a claim Verizon has refuted, saying without the additional AWS spectrum, it could run into shortages as early as 2013.

Verizon said it is announcing the sale plans now and will begin the process of soliciting interest from potential buyers to ensure the process can move forward quickly once the AWS license transfers have been completed.

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