Wednesday, December 19, 2012

FCC Gives Go Ahead to AT&T Acquisitions of WCS and AWS Licenses

The FCC approved AT&T's request to acquire certian Wireless Communications Service (WCS) and Advanced Wireless Services (AWS-1) licenses from Comcast, Horizon, NextWave, 
and San Diego Gas & Electric.

AT&T will acquire AWS-1 and WCS spectrum in 608 CMAs,15 covering 82 percent of the population of the contiguous 48 states. By spectrum band, AT&T would acquire: 10-20 megahertz of WCS A and B Block spectrum in 473 CMAs, covering close to 70 percent of the population of the contiguous 48 states; 5-10 megahertz of WCS C and D Block spectrum in 344 CMAs, covering 54 percent of the population of the contiguous 48 states; and 10-30 megahertz of AWS-1 spectrum in 29 CMAs,16 covering 2 percent of 
the population of the contiguous 48 states.

The FCC noted that AT&T already has made a multi-billion dollar commitment to the deployment of LTE in the AWS spectrum band, so the transfer of licenses should result in more services available to the public.

Joan Marsh, AT&T Vice President of Federal Regulatory, issued the following statement: "The long era of dispute and uncertainty surrounding the WCS spectrum band is finally over.  With the Order released today, AT&T will be able to complete acquisitions that will give it a path to robust commercial LTE deployment in the WCS band.  We applaud the FCC Chairman and Commissioners for their commitment to fostering innovative spectrum solutions that unlock under-utilized spectrum bands to serve the growing demands of American consumers. Repositioning the WCS band for LTE deployment is a significant accomplishment which will spur aggressive investment by AT&T and create good paying jobs across the wireless and technology eco-systems. This is also a win for our customers, who will benefit from today’s Order for years to come as we realize the spectrum’s full potential to enhance our wireless broadband offerings.”

In August, AT&T announced plans to acquire NextWave Wireless, which holds licenses in the Wireless Communication Services (WCS) and Advanced Wireless Service (AWS) bands, for approximately $25 million plus the assumption of about $600 million in debt. According to its 2011 annual report, Nextwave Wireless' total domestic spectrum holdings covers approximately 218.6 million total POPs, with 104.8 million POPs covered by 20 MHz or more of spectrum, and an additional 94.9 million POPs covered by at least 10 MHz of spectrum. In addition, a number of markets, including much of the New York City metropolitan region, are covered by 30 MHz or more of spectrum. Its domestic spectrum resides in the 2.3 GHz Wireless Communication Services (WCS), 2.5 GHz Broadband Radio Service (BRS)/Educational Broadband Service (EBS), and 1.7/2.1 GHz Advanced Wireless Service (AWS). Its international spectrum includes 2.3 GHz licenses in Canada with 15 million POPs covered by 30 MHz of spectrum.