US round-up: AT&T snaps up Plateau Wireless; Verizon linked with DISH spectrum; T-Mobile requests more favourable roaming rates

25 Jun 2014

AT&T Mobility is set to acquire 40,000 customers, a handful of spectrum licences and ‘related operations and assets’ of Plateau Wireless, Fierce Wireless reports. The regional operator, which offers mobile service across eastern New Mexico and west Texas, will exit the wireless business via the sale. Plateau notes that the agreement will not affect its other businesses which include wireline, fibre-optic broadband and IPTV services. Plateau Wireless is comprised of partnerships among Yucca Telecom, Five Area Telephone Cooperative, South Plains Telephone Cooperative, Mid-Plains Rural Telephone Cooperative and West Texas Telephone. The transaction, which requires Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approval, is likely to be completed in the second half of 2014.

Verizon Wireless is looking to buy satellite TV operator DISH Network’s spectrum to improve wireless internet speeds, the New York Post has reported, citing sources familiar with the matter. To date, the two companies have held ‘informal, early talks’ about the spectrum, the report adds. In March this year DISH – bidding under the ‘American H Block Wireless’ guise – walked away with all 176 licences up for grabs during the FCC’s so called ‘H block’ auction. The bidding process, which was designated as ‘Auction 96’, comprised frequencies in the 1915MHz-1920MHz (Lower H block) and 1995MHz-2000MHz (Upper H block) bands.

Finally, according to Fierce Wireless, T-Mobile US has asked the FCC to issue new guidance and enforcement criteria on data roaming agreements. T-Mobile’s request appears to be an attempt by the carrier to obtain a more favourable roaming agreement with rival AT&T Mobility, the online portal notes. Specifically, T-Mobile is asking the watchdog to issue ‘benchmarks’ on the cost of roaming rates. The carrier has also asked the FCC to clarify that current prices are not necessarily indicative of ‘commercially reasonable’ roaming rates, and to identify locations where carriers do not yet operate networks but are requesting roaming.