36 buyers interested in Verizon’s 700MHz spectrum

25 May 2012

Verizon Wireless has indicated that it has attracted interest from 36 potential buyers for its 700MHz Lower A and B Block spectrum. Fierce Wireless reports that Verizon made the disclosure in a letter dated 22 May, which was sent to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). All 36 entities have signed non-disclosure agreements over the proposed sale. The document is believed to form part of a larger accounting of the planned sale that Verizon supplied to the regulator following its request for more information. Verizon has provisionally agreed to sell the 700MHz spectrum if it receives regulatory approval for its USD3.9 billion purchase of nationwide AWS spectrum from SpectrumCo, a joint venture between cablecos Comcast Corporation, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks.

In response to persistent questions over its tactics – particularly the lack of progress in utilising its existing spectrum (the licences mandate coverage to 35% of the licensed geographic areas by mid-2013) – Verizon said that it has taken a number of steps to prepare its Lower And B Block spectrum for use, ‘including radio frequency (RF) system design, site construction planning, and discussions with vendors. In all markets covered by these licences, three phases of the initial RF system design have been completed: identifying cell sites for development, selecting configurations of antennas, and determining centre height requirements for the antennas’. Verizon added that it has also ‘communicated with equipment vendors about procuring both devices and network equipment that will operate on’ the spectrum.

Verizon insists that its desired AWS spectrum is more complementary to its existing spectrum holdings, noting the technical challenges associated with making its devices work for both the Lower 700MHz spectrum and the Upper C Block, which it is currently using to deploy LTE to around two-thirds of the US population.