AT&T Buys 700MHz from Aloha

Posted by Sam Churchill on

AT&T is buying Aloha Partners’ 700 MHz frequency spectrum licenses covering 196 mln people. Aloha Partners is the largest licensee of 700 MHz spectrum in the U.S.. AT&T said it will pay approximately 2.5 bln usd in cash for the licenses.

AT&T will take ownership of former UHF channels 54 and 59, the so-called “C” block of wireless spectrum. AT&T spokesman Michael Coe saidAT&T had yet to determine what services it would run over the airwave and would not say how the acquisition might affect AT&T’s participation in an upcoming government airwave auction.

Customer demand for mobile services, including voice, data and video, is continually increasing,” said Forrest Miller, group president-corporate strategy and development, in the AT&T press release. “Aloha’s spectrum will enable AT&T to efficiently meet this growing demand and help our customers stay connected to their worlds.”

Under the deal, AT&T will get 12 MHz of spectrum in the 700 MHz frequency, which covers 196 million people in 281 markets. This spectrum contains 72 of the top 100 metropolitan areas, including the top 10 markets.

AT&T said it anticipates receiving necessary government approvals and closing the transaction within six to nine months.

‘Customer demand for mobile services, including voice, data and video, is continually increasing,’ said Forrest Miller, group president-corporate strategy and development. ‘Aloha’s spectrum will enable AT&T to efficiently meet this growing demand and help our customers stay connected to their worlds.’ “We’ll use the spectrum either for broadcast mobile video or two-way voice and data services, but not both,” said Coe. “We’ll make that determination based on what’s best for our customers.”

According to Aloha Partners website:

After the first 700MHz auction in 2002, Aloha Partners realized that if the FCC modified its 700 MHz adjacent channel rules, then significantly more of Aloha’s markets could become operational prior to completion of the DTV transition. As a result of its efforts, Aloha received FCC approval in 2005 to operate a trial market where a Broadcaster is still in operation on an adjacent channel. With additional filings at the FCC, up to 60 of Aloha’s top 100 markets may be available for mobile TV deployments prior to the completion of the DTV transition.

Aloha Partner’s mobile television system, HiWire, is currently running a 24-channel lineup for 700MHz mobile TV broadcast trial in Las Vegas. It’s more than double the eight-channel lineup currently offered by rival MediaFLO USA.

The Aloha Partners subsidiary partnered with SES Americom to deliver the programming. In Las Vegas two 6MHz UHF channels will be used: 54 and 59. Aloha Partners owns access to these channels in 80% of the top 100 markets in the US.

According to Unstrung, a likely scenario is that AT&T uses this spectrum for 3G services. The U.S. operator has led the work to get support for 700 MHz frequencies included in the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) and has been supported by Ericsson AB, Nokia Siemens Networks, and Alcatel-Lucent. In June, AT&T agreed to buy wireless carrier Dobson Communications for about $2.8 billion, another step in AT&T’s effort to expand its network coverage into rural areas.

In the FCC’s Auction 44 (pdf) Aloha Partners paid some $29 million (pdf) for 77 licenses. Not a bad return. Then they sold their West Coast license on channel 55 to Qualcomm for MediaFLO. Qualcomm bought licenses for the rest of the country in auction 49 (pdf), only after they realized what a valuable resource that spectrum was.

The FCC has pushed back the 700 MHz auction from Jan. 16 to Jan. 24, reports RCR News. It will provide interested parties with additional time to develop business plans, assess market conditions and evaluate the availability of equipment for new 700 MHz band services,” the FCC stated.

Related Aloha Partners stories on DailyWireless include; Google: We Got Trouble. . . In 700 Mhz, FCC Finalizes Rules on 700MHz: Limited Open Access, No Wholesale Requirement, Qualcomm Buys Flarion, Joint Commecial/Muni Proposed for 700Mhz, AT&T’s WiFi TV, Hiwire Moves on Mobile TV, Mobile TV War at NAB, Small Ops Squeezed Out of 700MHz?, HiWire: 24 Mobile TV Channels, Rural Broadband Gets A Plan, Verizon Makes its Move for Universal Service Fund, The Smartest Guy in the Room, 700 MHz On The Line?, 700 Mhz Worth $28B, 4G Auctions, RUS Funding for 700 MHz, The 700 Mhz Club, Channel 54: Where are You?

Posted by Sam Churchill on Tuesday, October 9th, 2007 at 8:25 am .

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