Consumer Groups Fight AT&T Merger

The FCC should deny AT&T’s plan to buy US$1.9 billion worth of Qualcomm’s wireless spectrum, several consumer groups said Wednesday. The FCC should combine its reviews of the two AT&T deals, according to Free Press, Public Knowledge, and Consumers Union, reports Network World.

Cellular South, Dish Networks and the Rural Cellular Association are also asking the FCC to block the AT&T $1.9 billion purchase of Qualcomm’s Flo-TV spectrum in blocks “D” and “E” in the lower 700 MHz band. The deal would transfer 11 “unpaired” licenses for lower block spectrum in the 700 MHz to AT&T, in key markets like New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. Verizon bought the bulk of the “C” block for nationwide LTE, while the “D” block remains unsold.

AT&T acquired 700 MHz spectrum from Hiwire in a $2.5 billion deal in October 2007, and in the FCC’s 700 MHz auction in 2008, where they bought dozens more licenses in the B & C blocks. AT&T plans to combine that spectrum with their 12 MHz from Qualcomm to deliver LTE service. But since the spectrum is not contiguous, AT&T hopes to delay their LTE rollout until new multi-carrier LTE technology is available.

In December, the AT&T said it intends to buy Qualcomm spectrum licenses in the lower 700MHz band for $1.9 billion. T-Mobile has no spectrum in the 700 or 850 MHz band. Most of their spectrum is currently being used. AT&T announced in March its plans to buy T-Mobile USA for $39 billion in a bid to utilize spectrum for efficiently.

“The proposed merger between AT&T and T-Mobile would reshape the entire American wireless industry in a single stroke,” the consumer groups wrote. “With possible approval of this transaction lingering on the horizon, the Public Interest Organizations can no longer imagine conditions that could outweigh the risk of competitive harm posed by the further growth of AT&T through acquisition of additional beachfront spectrum licenses from Qualcomm.”

According to AT&T, “The merger will not literally create new spectrum but it will allow efficiencies in the use of spectrum that are the functional equivalent.

Related stories on DailyWireless include; Traffic Forecast: Congested, Combining AWS and 700 MHz: Why?, AT&T Gets Heat on MediaFLO Spectrum, U.S. Wireless Growth, T-Mobile’s Secret Sauce: 2x10MHz, T-Mobile’s Secret Sauce: 2x10MHz, 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 .

Leave a Reply