FCC clears AT&T-Qualcomm spectrum deal

After blocking AT&T's T-Mobile acquisition, the agency quickly approved the smaller agreement

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission approved AT&T's US$1.9 billion purchase of spectrum from Qualcomm on Thursday, allowing the carrier to salvage one ambitious deal to acquire more spectrum, after shooting down its planned merger with T-Mobile USA.

AT&T announced its plan to buy the Qualcomm spectrum last December, a few months before it unveiled the much larger proposal to merge with T-Mobile for $39 billion. It said both were motivated by the need for more radio spectrum to increase the coverage and capacity of its LTE (Long-Term Evolution) network. AT&T withdrew the T-Mobile plan on Monday after the FCC, the Department of Justice and others said it was not in the public interest.

With the Qualcomm purchase, AT&T will get 6MHz of spectrum across the country in the coveted 700MHz band, as well as another 6MHz of spectrum in five major metropolitan areas: New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and San Francisco, according to the FCC's order released Thursday. Those five markets represent about 70 million potential subscribers. The carrier has said it plans to use it as a supplemental downlink for its LTE network, allowing for faster and more consistent mobile data service.

The FCC said it approved the deal despite some concerns that it could hurt competition. It imposed conditions that require AT&T not to interfere with services in adjacent frequencies or prevent inter-carrier roaming.

Qualcomm acquired the spectrum from local TV stations and used it to build a network of base stations using its FLO (Forward Link Only) technology, which broadcast TV programming to handsets with specialized radios. The service, called MediaFLO, did not gain a huge following and was discontinued.

All U.S. wireless operators are scrambling to acquire enough spectrum to serve the growing demand for mobile data services. Earlier this month, Verizon Wireless announced an agreement with several cable operators in which it would buy $3.6 billion worth of spectrum.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags governmentmobileregulationtelecommunicationqualcomm4gat&tCarriersU.S. Federal Communications Commission

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Stephen Lawson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Bitdefender 2019

This Holiday Season, protect yourself and your loved ones with the best. Buy now for Holiday Savings!

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?