AT&T to acquire wireless spectrum from Aloha Partners

AT&T last week announced its intention to purchase spectrum licenses covering 196 million people in the 700MHz frequency band from Aloha Partners. According to recent figures from “The Wall Street Journal,” the company’s wireless unit has more than 60 million subscribers.

While AT&T has not made public its intended use for the spectrum, Forrest Miller, group president of corporate strategy and development, said in a statement that among the reasons AT&T is making the purchase is the increasing customer demand for mobile services, including data and video capabilities.

The transaction will add 12MHz of spectrum for AT&T, covering 196 million people in 281 markets. The spectrum covers many major metropolitan areas, including 72 of the top 100 and all of the top 10 markets in the United States. The 700MHz frequency range is considered especially valuable to telcos like AT&T because it allows signals to penetrate walls and other physical obstacles. This would make it easier for AT&T to ensure indoor and outdoor mobile video and data signal coverage.

Aloha Partners is currently one of the largest owners of lower-band 700MHz spectrum. QUALCOMM is another owner of this slice of the spectrum, which it uses to deliver its MediaFLO mobile TV service. It is not yet clear whether the purchase of the spectrum of Aloha, which has been planning and testing its own mobile TV service through its subsidiary HiWire, means that the company will be abandoning its mobile TV scheme.

AT&T will pay approximately $2.5 billion in cash for the licenses. The company expects to close the transaction within six to nine months.

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