updated 09:30 pm EDT, Tue June 22, 2010
FCC says ATT buyout of Verizon space competitive
The FCC today greenlit AT&T's nearly $2.4 billion buyout of some Verizon wireless spectrum. A unanimous vote by all five commissioners ruled that the buyout, prompted by an FCC requirement that Verizon sell 79 of its frequency holdings after acquiring Alltel, didn't pose a competitive risk. It argued in turn that there were "public interest benefits" to AT&T taking over the discarded frequencies.
To complete the deal, AT&T has had to make certain guarantees, including honoring Verizon's earlier roaming deals where possible and making new ones of its own for its primarily GSM-based network. An unspecified number of customers will now belong to AT&T as part of the swap.
Obtaining the space could improve AT&T's coverage, primarily in rural parts of the US. Most of the new wireless spaces focus on the southwest, such as Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and Utah, but also parts of the north and east, including the Dakotas, Michigan, Minnesota, Virginia and Wyoming. The carrier plans to give 3G service to all of the newly available areas and expects these to get the iPhone and the rest of AT&T's mobile catalog.