AT&T Mobility yesterday announced the successful completion of its acquisition of wireless spectrum in the lower 700MHz ‘B block’ from rival Verizon Wireless. The acquired licences cover 42 million people in 18 states, namely: California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Louisiana, Montana, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming. The spectrum will be used to support AT&T’s ongoing deployment of 4G LTE technology. In exchange for the 700MHz spectrum, AT&T paid USD1.9 billion in cash, and transferred Advanced Wireless Services’ (AWS’) spectrum licences in Phoenix, Arizona; Los Angeles and Fresno, California; Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Portland, Oregon to Verizon.
In a related development, Fierce Wireless reports that AT&T has come out in favour of interoperability in the 700MHz band, and will begin adding ‘Band 12-capable’ devices to its portfolio. Until now, the company has adamantly refused to support Band 12 (which includes spectrum in the Lower A, B and C blocks), saying that it was unnecessary and added costs to its devices. However, in a blog post from Joan Marsh, the company’s vice president of federal regulatory affairs, the company confirmed that the company ‘has committed to investing considerable time and resources to the modification of its 700MHz LTE network through the implementation of a newly-standardised software feature. That effort will allow AT&T’s network to support Band 12 capable devices’. The biggest beneficiaries are likely to be licensees such as C Spire Wireless and US Cellular, which have argued that they could not use all of their Lower A block spectrum because equipment makers would not make devices to support Band 12 without having commitments from larger Tier 1 operators.