AT&T shells out $1.9 billion to Qualcomm over FCC-approved spectrum deal

AT&T Qualcomm Logos

It was just last week that the AT&T and T-Mobile merger got scratched off the former’s plans officially and now the carrier has received FCC approval over a spectrum deal with Qualcomm. And the money changing hands amounts to $1.925 billion for the sale of licenses.

Basically, the carrier will be on the receiving end of the mobile technology company’s Lower 700MHz D and E Block (Channel 55 and 56) unpaired U.S. spectrum licenses. With the T-Mobile transaction setback putting a stop to AT&T’s ambitions to add network capacity as it graduates towards LTE, the FCC nod obviously comes as a sort of compensation for the operator.

“To meet the needs of our customers, we will continue to invest. However, adding capacity to meet these needs will require policymakers to do two things. First, in the near term, they should allow the free markets to work so that additional spectrum is available to meet the immediate needs of the U.S. wireless industry, including expeditiously approving our acquisition of unused Qualcomm spectrum currently pending before the FCC,” cited Randall Stephenson, AT&T chairman and CEO, while elaborating on why the company was hanging up on the T-Mobile merger.

AT&T intends to employ the purchased spectrum as supplemental downlink with the assistance of carrier aggregation technology. The last mentioned is capable of serving up noticeable capacity gains as unpaired spectrum is utilized with paired spectrum for 4G services. The adoption of such technology is expected to show up as improvements in the service provider’s mobile broadband network.

The $1.9 billion AT&T and Qualcomm spectrum deal was actually revealed way back in December 2010, though it seems to have been pending over certain nitty-gritty details about the conditions of closing.