Cox Seeks to Transfer 700 MHz Spectrum to AT&T, U.S. Cellular

WASHINGTON: The Federal Communications Commission has opened pleading cycles on requests from Cox to transfer its 700 MHz licenses to AT&T and U.S. Cellular.

Cox Wireless, a subsidiary of Cox Communications, won 22 licenses for $304.6 million in the 2008 auction of spectrum turned over by TV stations after the digital transition. Of those, 14 were in the A Block, covering 6.6 percent of the U.S. population, and eight were in the B Block, covering 0.6 percent. The company’s website said it intended to use the 700 MHz spectrum “to develop a CDMA and LTE wireless and mobile broadband products that build on significant content, data and voice services already provided to its customers.”

Cox now wants to transfer the A Block to U.S. Cellular, and the B Block to AT&T. The transfer would give AT&T 55 MHz of spectrum below 1 GHz and give it more spectrum covering “eight Cellular Market Areas in Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Virginia,” the related FCC notice states.

U.S. Cellular would take the A Block licenses covering 30 CMAs in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma, giving it 61 MHz of spectrum below 1 GHz, according to the related notice.

Both AT&T and U.S. Cellular participated in the 2008 700 MHz auctions. AT&T spent $6.6 billion on 227 licenses, while U.S. Cellular, bidding as King Street Wireless, took 152 licenses for $300.5 million.

The FCC has established a pleading cycle by which petitions to deny the transfer are due May 29. Oppositions to those petitions are due June 8, with replies due June 15.

~ Deborah D. McAdams