Verizon plans to sell off some mobile spectrum

The carrier plans to sell off the A and B blocks of the 700MHz spectrum if its deals with cable providers are approved

Verizon Wireless plans to sell off two 12MHz blocks of mobile spectrum in the 700MHz, if its proposed purchase of spectrum from a group of cable providers is approved by federal regulators, the company announced Wednesday.

Verizon plans to sell off its spectrum licenses for the A and B blocks of the 700MHz spectrum, the company announced. Verizon purchased the spectrum in the 2008 700MHz auction.

Verizon is deploying a 4G LTE network on its nationwide 700 MHz upper C spectrum, also purchased in the 2008 auction. The spectrum Verizon plans to purchase from Comcast and other cable companies would also be used for LTE, the company said in a news release.

In December, Verizon announced plans to buy unused mobile spectrum covering 259 million U.S. residents from SpectrumCo, a joint venture among Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, in a deal worth US$3.6 billion.

Verizon announced a separate deal to buy $315 million worth of spectrum from Cox Communications later that month.

Several consumer groups and competitors of Verizon have protested the sale and related cross-marketing deals between Verizon and the cable firms. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission is reviewing the deals.

Verizon spent about $9.4 billion in the 700MHz auction, half of it for the large nationwide C block.

Verizon wants to sell the A and B blocks quickly after the sale of the cable spectrum is completed, the company said.

"Since wireless operators, large and small, have expressed concern about the availability of high-quality spectrum, we believe our 700 MHz licenses will be attractive to a wide range of buyers," Molly Feldman, Verizon Wireless' vice president of business development, said in a statement.  "Provided our acquisition of [the cable] spectrum is approved, our open sale process will ensure these A and B spectrum licenses are quickly and fairly made available for the benefit of other carriers and their customers."

Stephens, a financial services firm based in Little Rock, Arkansas, will manage the sale of the spectrum, Verizon said. The firm will reach out to minority- and women-owned businesses interested in the spectrum, Verizon said.

The A block licenses cover several large metropolitan areas, including New York City, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Miami, Cleveland, Detroit, and Houston. The B block licenses cover several areas, including Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Cincinnati, and Memphis.

Grant Gross covers technology and telecom policy in the U.S. government for The IDG News Service. Follow Grant on Twitter at GrantGross. Grant's e-mail address is grant_gross@idg.com.

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