AT&T throws hat into Verizon’s spectrum ring

13 Jun 2012

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson has indicated that his company is interested in purchasing Verizon Wireless’ 700MHz Lower B Block spectrum, Fierce Wireless reports. The frequencies, which will only be made available if Verizon gains regulatory approval to purchase AWS spectrum from a group of cable companies, have attracted the attentions of a number of US operators in recent weeks, with a total of 36 companies signing non-disclosure agreements over the proposed sale late last month. However, until now US Cellular was the only mobile operator to publicly declare an interest in the frequencies.

Speaking during a question-and-answer session at the Brookings Institution, Stephenson commented: ‘The spectrum that Verizon has commented on that they’d be selling pairs perfectly with ours. If we were to have access to that spectrum we could put it to work in 60 days. In 60 days that would be up and running and hot’. Although both 700MHz Lower A Block and Lower B Block will potentially be up for grabs, AT&T is only interested in the latter, believing that interference from Channel 51 broadcast transmissions could interfere with Lower A Block spectrum.

Stephenson also reiterated his previously-stated opinion that the government needs to find ways to push spectrum holders to make the most effective use of the spectrum they currently possess, or to encourage them to sell the unused frequencies to a company that will. He said: ‘This is not an industry that is lacking for capital investment. The thing that’s going to cause it to slow is just the availability of spectrum’.

United States, AT&T Communications, Verizon Wireless