AT&T buys San Diego WCS spectrum

Thu, 09/20/2012 - 2:05pm
Maisie Ramsay, Wireless Week

AT&T continued its WCS shopping spree yesterday with the purchase of two licenses in San Diego, a key market in California.

The spectrum will be used to supplement AT&T's LTE network in the California market, where competitor Verizon Wireless launched LTE nearly two years ago. AT&T switched on its own San Diego LTE network in January.

According to documents filed with the FCC, AT&T is buying 10 MHz of C- and D-block WCS spectrum from the San Diego Gas & Electric Co.

The FCC has combined the transaction with AT&T's other WCS and AWS purchases from Comcast, Horizon Wi-Com and NextWave Wireless. Together with those licenses, the spectrum from the utility company will give AT&T 30 MHz of WCS spectrum in San Diego.

AT&T had planned to divest its WCS spectrum because interference issues with satellite service precluded its use. But after hashing out a fix for satellite interference with Sirius XM this summer, AT&T changed course and bought additional WCS licenses, aiming to use them for LTE.

The FCC still has to put AT&T and Sirius XM's compromise into effect. As they stand now, current regulations effectively preclude the use of LTE in the WCS band, AT&T wrote in a June FCC filing.

If the FCC relaxes its rules, AT&T said it will be able to use its WCS spectrum for LTE in three years. It currently uses 700 MHz and AWS spectrum for its LTE network.

AT&T announced in August it was acquiring NextWave Wireless in a transaction valued at $600 million. The two companies jointly owned WCS spectrum before the buyout was announced.


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