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AT&T's private 700MHz grab approved by FCC

updated 02:20 pm EST, Tue February 5, 2008

ATT Aloha Deal Approved

The Federal Communications Commission today approved AT&T's plan to buy 700MHz spectrum from Aloha, finalizing a deal first set in motion in October. The $2.5 billion deal was given to the American carrier despite reservations by FCC commissioners Jonathan Adelstein and Michael Copps, both of whom raised concerns that AT&T's exclusive access to this portion of the 700MHz band would potentially hurt competition and work against the public's interest in maintaining an accessible network.

The purchase could only serve to compound "round after round of consolidation" in the telecoms business in the US, Copps says, referring to mergers that have partly reversed the anti-monopoly steps that saw the original AT&T split up into several regional competitors. Both Copps and Adelstein have also expressed worry that there was little time to review the potential impact of the move.

Some of the concern stems from AT&T's plans for the frequency, which are expected to include mobile data and a potential phone service. Aloha's spectrum is separate from that involved in the FCC's 700MHz auction and is not part of the "C" block that now requires open access to any device and software. Although AT&T is involved in the auction, a future AT&T service using the Aloha spectrum could lock customers to specific handsets and prevent them from installing software that competes with paid AT&T services.

By Electronista Staff
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  1. danviento

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Dec 2005


    Fears aside, please

    Despite the palpable presence of corporations like M$ and VZW that trend toward the locking model, AT&T doesn't really have a history of such practices. Yes, the iPhone is locked into their network for now, but that was just a temporary arrangement, and doesn't reflect other types of phones the installed interface. In fact, AT&T allowing Apple's software model on their network shows they are willing to part with such control, unlike VZW who had the first chance.

    Hey MacNN, instead of playing the fear-monger, how about speculating on possible plans for AT&T service and the iPhone?

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001


    Re: fears aside...

    Maybe you should look into your history of AT&T. They were split up for a reason.

    AT&T wasn't the ones willing to part control of the phone, that was Cingular (before being bought out). However, they needed the phone more, since they're trying to build their customer base.

    VZW didn't need to cede the control, because they weren't desperate enough like AT&T.

    But keep in mind it works both ways. If your iPhone breaks after 6 months, you have to take it in or send it in and hope to get it fixed in quick order. If your Verizon breaks in 6 months, take it in and get it replaced with a new one right there. That was another part of the control Apple didn't want to release (and also a change for AT&T as well).

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