Thursday, December 22, 2011

AT&T to Boost LTE Downlinks with Qualcomm's 700 MHz + Carrier Aggregation

The FCC granted regulatory approval for AT&T to acquire 700 MHz licenses from Qualcomm.

AT&T is purchasing 700 MHz spectrum licenses covering more than 300 million people for approximately $1.9 billion. The deal includes all 11 of Qualcomm’s D and E Block licenses in the Lower 700 MHz band.

In its FCC application for license transfer, AT&T said it plans to use supplemental downlink technology (carrier aggregation) to bond this unpaired spectrum with paired spectrum that it already holds. This will enable AT&T
to add substantial capacity on its LTE network once the LTE Advanced standards are released. The licenses at issue cover all of the United States with six or 12 megahertz of Lower 700 MHz spectrum. Specifically, Qualcomm holds all six of the Lower 700 MHz D Block licenses (six megahertz). In addition, Qualcomm holds five of the 176 Economic Area licenses35 (also six megahertz) in the Lower 700 MHz E Block, providing coverage in five of the top 15 metropolitan areas (New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and San Francisco), covering more than 70 million people.

Qualcomm originally planned to use this spectrum for its Media FLO mobile TV service, which was launched in 2009 and then cancelled in early 2011 after failing to catch on in the market.

"This spectrum will help AT&T continue to deliver a world-class mobile broadband experience to our customers," said Bob Quinn, senior vice president-Federal Regulatory, AT&T. "We appreciate the FCC Chairman, the Commissioners and their staff for completing its review before the holidays.

  • In 2008, Qualcomm won eight licenses in the FCC's 700 MHz spectrum auction at a total cost of $558.1 million. Specifically, Qualcomm purchased licenses in the E block covering the Boston, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia and San Francisco Economic Area regions. These licenses doubled Qualcomm's 700 MHz spectrum holdings throughout a footprint of more than 68 million people in 28 individual markets for MediaFLO USA's "FLO TV" service (21 of its top 100 markets) at a cost of $554.6 million. In addition, Qualcomm purchased three licenses on the B block at a cost of $3.5 million.

See also