AT&T Takes Qualcomm Spectrum for $1.9 Billion
Carrier plans LTE expansion
December 20, 2010
SAN DIEGO, CALIF.: AT&T struck a deal to take Qualcomm’s
nationwide 700 MHz spectrum licenses for $1.925 billion, the telco said
today. AT&T said the move would bolster its “ability to provide and
advanced 4G mobile broadband experience for its customers in the years ahead.”
Qualcomm amassed nationwide licenses at Chs. 55 and 56 to utilize its MediaFLO
video transmission technology
FLO TV. Qualcomm reportedly sunk as much as $800 million into the effort,
including $683 million for spectrum. FLO TV mobile video service was launched
in 2004, but never got legs. Qualcomm said in October it intended to shutter
FLO TV by next spring. It later specified that it would end service March 27,
2011 and provide refunds for people who bought dedicated FLO TV receivers.
AT&T said the spectrum covers more than 300 million people nationwide: 12
MHz in the lower 700 MHz D and E blocks covers more than 70 million people in New
York, Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and San Francisco; another 6 MHz in the
D block covers more than 230 million people across the rest of the United States.
The telco said it plans to deploy the spectrum as “supplemental downlink, using
carrier aggregation technology,” which allows for virtual pairing of non-paired
spectrum bands. Qualcomm will include the technology in its future chipsets.
“This technology is designed to deliver substantial capacity gains and is
expected to be enabled with the completion of 3GPP Release 10,” AT&T said,
referring to the latest Long-Term Evolution mobile network technology standard.
“AT&T expects to begin deploying this spectrum once compatible handsets and
network equipment are developed.”
Subject to regulatory approval, the deal is expected to close in the second
half of 2011.
-- Deborah D. McAdams