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AT&T closes $1.9B deal for Verizon spectrum

Wed, 09/11/2013 - 12:27pm
Ben Munson, Wireless Week

Following the announcement in January of a $1.9 billion deal to acquire spectrum licenses from Verizon, AT&T confirmed that the deal has been finalized.

AT&T gets 39 lower 700 MHz B Block licenses reportedly covering 42 million people in 18 states—California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, Montana, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.

In addition to the money, AT&T is giving Verizon AWS spectrum licenses in Phoenix, Ariz.; Los Angeles and Fresno, Calif.; Albuquerque, N.M.; and Portland, Ore.

AT&T will put the spectrum to use in its LTE network. The carrier has been rolling as of late in its LTE expansion, with new totals released last week putting AT&T LTE in 397 cities with coverage for 225 million people. AT&T plans to have LTE deployed in 420 cities with coverage for 270 million people by year’s end.

The sealed deal for the spectrum comes just one day after the FCC and carriers reached an interoperability agreement for the lower 700 MHz. AT&T, firmly established with LTE in band 17, was at the forefront arguing against the measures to boost support for LTE band 12 in devices. AT&T even suggested it would have to abandon its development of band 17 devices and reconfigure its entire network to add support for band 12. But now, AT&T has agreed to work toward interoperability and to resolve any interference issues that might arise from band 12 support.

AT&T’s change of heart comes as welcome news to smaller regional carriers like C Spire that had difficulty securing LTE devices that supported band 12. OEMs like Apple have not been as supportive. Lawyers representing Apple recently met with the FCC and told the Commission that including support for band 12 in lower 700 MHz LTE devices would be “problematic.”

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