AT&T Acquires Wireless Spectrum from Qualcomm

By Cindy Waxer December 20, 2010

AT&T is hoping to quell customer complaints with the purchase of spectrum licenses in the 700 MHz frequency band from Qualcomm for $1.925 billion. According to a press release from the telco giant, “the move will bolster AT&T’s ability to provide an advanced 4G mobile broadband experience for its customers in the years ahead.”

As it stands, Qualcomm uses the licenses to support the service business of FLO TV Incorporated, a wholly owned subsidiary of Qualcomm. Qualcomm plans to shutter its FLO TV business and network in March 2011.

The spectrum currently covers more than 300 million people total nationwide: 12 MHz of Lower 700 MHz D and E block spectrum covers more than 70 million people in five of the top 15 U.S. metropolitan areas — New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and San Francisco; 6 MHz of lower 700 MHz D block spectrum covers more than 230 million people across the rest of the U.S.

As part of its longer-term 4G network plans, AT&T plans to roll out this spectrum as supplemental downlink, using carrier aggregation technology. This technology is designed to deliver substantial capacity gains and is expected to be enabled with the completion of 3GPP Release 10. Compatible handsets and network equipment must be developed before AT&T can deploy the spectrum.

By bolstering its 4G network, AT&T could quell complaints of spotty service from customers suffering from coverage difficulties.

In October, AT&T reported a net gain in total wireless subscribers of 2.6 million, topping 92.8 million in service. According to the company, such growth reflects rapid adoption of smartphones, increases in prepaid subscribers and growth in a host of connected devices such as eReaders, security systems, fleet management and global positioning systems in both the business and consumer markets.




Edited by Tammy Wolf

TechZone360 Contributing Editor

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