Qualcomm pushes FCC to move on Flo deal approval
It's been nearly a year since AT&T announced it would pay $1.93 billion for the airwaves used in Qualcomm's discontinued Flo TV mobile television service, 11 months since the companies filed an application for the deal with the FCC, nine months since the Department of Justice completed its review of the transaction and seven days after the FCC said it planned to approve the acquisition – and Qualcomm wants to get the deal closed.
Ex parte documents filed with the FCC today  show top Qualcomm executives spoke with agency Chairman Julius Genachowski and other officials shortly after the decision to approve the deal was announced.
Qualcomm CEO Paul Jacobs and government affairs chief Dean Brenner pushed the FCC in separate discussions to complete its review of the proposed spectrum sale as soon as possible, arguing it did not raise concerns about market concentration and competition that could delay its approval. AT&T wants to use the chunk of 700 MHz spectrum to add capacity to its LTE network.
"Swift FCC approval now is critical to enable the deployment of new supplemental downlink technology on fallow unpaired spectrum and to realize the substantial public interest benefits created by the transaction," Qualcomm stated in a presentation to the FCC .
The review of the Flo TV deal hit a snag in August when the FCC decided to stall its decision to consider the impact of the acquisition in light of AT&T's $39 billion buyout of T-Mobile USA. The agency said at the time the two transactions raised "a number of related issues."
The FCC said last week it planned to approve the Flo sale with certain conditions, which it declined to specify. The agency has yet to release its proposed order for the deal and has not said when it will vote on the decision.
Flo's nationwide 700 MHz D-block and E-block spectrum covers more than 300 million people and includes 12 MHz in New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and San Francisco. AT&T may be required to divest some of the spectrum under terms mandated by the FCC.
The announcement about the Flo deal was made at the same time the FCC said it would not approve AT&T's merger with T-Mobile USA, instead referring the transaction to an administrative hearing. The move prompted AT&T to withdraw its merger application, and the operator has threatened to sue the FCC if it moves forward with the hearing.