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AT&T, T-Mobile swap PCS spectrum

Wed, 10/10/2012 - 3:08pm
Maisie Ramsay, Wireless Week

AT&T is snapping up a handful of AWS, PCS and 700 MHz spectrum through separate deals with T-Mobile USA and Peregrine Spectrum.

According to documents released by the FCC yesterday, Peregrine is selling AT&T three lower 700 MHz B-block licenses spanning Florida, Minnesota and Puerto Rico. AT&T uses that band for its LTE network.

AT&T and T-Mobile are swapping spectrum in 55 markets across 17 states.

The exchange will "result in larger blocks of contiguous spectrum and/or the alignment of spectrum blocks held in adjacent markets, and in other markets, augment the spectrum holdings of the proposed assignee," AT&T and T-Mobile said in the FCC filing. "The assignments therefore will allow the assignees to make more efficient use of the spectrum and offer improved services to the public across the country."

As a result of the exchange, AT&T will gain 10 MHz of PCS spectrum in 12 markets, and T-Mobile will gain between 5 MHz and 10 MHz of PCS spectrum in eight markets. In the remaining 35 markets, the companies will exchange equal amounts of PCS spectrum.

The transaction includes a license held by Cook Inlet, a company in which T-Mobile holds a 66 percent stake.

T-Mobile is also acquiring a single AWS license from AT&T in Spokane, Wash. It is using the AWS spectrum acquired from AT&T's failed buyout bid for its LTE network.

AT&T currently uses PCS for its 2G network but is re-farming the spectrum for its LTE network ahead of its pending shutdown of the GSM service in 2017.

T-Mobile said in April that it would launch HSPA+ service on its PCS spectrum this year. The move will make its network more compatible with the iPhone. T-Mobile does not carry the smartphone, but it has said more than 1 million unlocked iPhones run on its network.

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