The FCC has approved the transfer of spectrum from AT&T to T-Mobile. In the meantime, the carrier is taking steps to block Verizon Wireless from acquiring similar spectrum.
carriers' need for additional spectrum, as they race to build out 4G networks
based on Long-Term Evolution (LTE) technology, continues to be a
front-and-center issue. Most recently, T-Mobile announced that the Federal
Communications Commission has approved the transfer of some AWS spectrum
licenses to it from AT&T.
spectrum is relevant to 128 markets, including 12 of the top 20. Along with
approximately $4 billion, the spectrum was part of a fee AT&T had agreed to
pay to T-Mobile, should the larger carrier's efforts to acquire the smaller
carrier fail. Despite nine months of efforts to coax the FCC to allow the
acquisitionwhich AT&T argued was necessary for its planned LTE
rolloutsthe bid ultimately
failed toward the end of 2011
applaud the FCC for acting swiftly to approve the transfer of these spectrum
licenses," T-Mobile CTO Neville Ray said in an April 25 statement
had agreed to the purchase, saying it lacked the spectrum and resources to roll
out an LTE networkan asset necessary to competeand so faced rather meager
prospects. The AT&T parting gifts, however, have turned its situation
this additional spectrum was a key catalyst for our plans to launch LTE in 2013
is therefore good news for our customers," Ray added. The statement went
on to say that T-Mobile will invest $4 billion "on network modernization
to improve existing voice and data coverage, and to broadly deploy LTE in
meanwhile, has been highly critical of Verizon Wireless' intention to purchase
AWS spectrum from Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, through
their joint venture, SpectrumCo.
was among the parties that criticized the manner in which Verizon and its
partners shared details of the deal with the FCC, arguing that too much
information had been blocked or made vague, hindering concerned parties from
reviewing the details and responding appropriately.
April 19, T-Mobile
CEO Philipp Humm and his legal team met with the members of the FCC
discuss their concernswhich included Verizon buying spectrum that it actually
counsel Jean Kiddoo, in a letter to the FCC regarding the meeting, expressed
that Verizon already owned AWS spectrum that it has done nothing with for the
last six years.
noted that given this dismal track record on utilization of its current AWS
spectrum, it would make no sense, and would be inconsistent with the
Commission's charge to ensure that spectrum transfers serve the public
interest, to allow Verizon to acquire additional AWS licenses, especially at
this time of an industry-wide spectrum crunch," Kiddoo continued.
next day, working toward a similar end, the Communications Workers of America
(CWA), representing a handful of organizations, including DirecTV and consumer
rights group Public Knowledge, wrote to FCC Secretary Marlene H. Dortch. In the
letter it argued that files submitted for review by Verizon and Spectrum Co.,
as well as Cox Wireless, another cable company Verizon is set to purchase
spectrum from, were submitted in software that made them expensive or daunting
to accessfor those actually able to access themand called on the FCC to
"suspend the 180-day transaction timeclock to ensure a meaningful
opportunity for review of the relevant materials ¦"
federal regulators approve the Verizon deal, it's expected to come with the
provision that Verizon sell off some 700MHz B-Block spectrumwhich AT&T
might know just what to do with.
Verizon spectrum, Eric Costa, a research analyst with Technology Business
Research, said in an April 24 report, "that covers 48 million [people],
including four major markets, would supplement nicely with AT&T's existing
is also expected to investigate whether it might purchase spectrum from Dish
Networks or MetroPCS.