AT&T sets its sights on CenturyTel spectrum

13 Sep 2012

US mobile giant AT&T Mobility is seeking Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approval for the purchase of 51 Lower 700MHz ‘B Block’ licences, four Lower 700MHz ‘C Block’ licences and six Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) licences, Fierce Wireless reports citing a recent regulatory filing. AT&T has indicated that it wants the spectrum to boost capacity and spectral efficiency, notably for its in-deployment Long Term Evolution (LTE) network. The frequencies in question cover 54 Cellular Market Areas (CMAs) located in 14 states, and if the deals are approved, AT&T would hold a maximum of 55MHz of spectrum below 1GHz in 25 of the markets involved. The financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed.

The projected deal caps off a frenzied spell of activity for the mobile operator, which has concentrated on smaller spectrum agreements since the failure of its controversial USD39 billion takeover of T-Mobile USA last year. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, last month AT&T Mobility announced that it has agreed a deal worth up to USD600 million to acquire San Diego-based spectrum holding company NextWave Wireless, a major holder of 2.3GHz Wireless Communication Services (WCS) frequencies. In recent months the cellco has AT&T has continued to add to its already-substantial 700MHz spectrum holdings, lining up a number of small-scale regional transactions.

There is undoubtedly a sense of urgency behind AT&T’s activities; on 28 September the FCC is poised to stage a thorough review of how much bandwidth a mobile carrier should be able to hold, with a particular focus on whether or not to treat lower-band spectrum differently to higher-band radio waves.

United States, AT&T Communications