updated 01:50 pm EST, Tue December 27, 2011
ATT completes Qualcomm LTE spectrum deal
AT&T on Tuesday formally completed its purchase of Qualcomm airwaves. The $1.9 billion deal gives it access to 700MHz frequencies it will use to boost the coverage for its LTE-based 4G network. The extra spectrum's reach is wide enough to cover nearly all of the US, at 300 million potential users.
Qualcomm decided to sell the spectrum after dropping Flo TV early into 2011. It had the ambition of offering live, direct-broadcast TV similar to 1Seg in Japan or DVB-H in Europe, but streaming Internet video and a poor mix of cellphones mostly negated Flo TV's reason for being.
The FCC partly let AT&T buy the spectrum as a consolation for its denied merger with T-Mobile. AT&T had claimed that eliminating a major competitor was essential to boosting its spectrum at the higher end, but the FCC and Department of Justice together made clear that the competitive issues were too great.
Its approval follows just days after Verizon bought cable companies' spectrum to bolster its own 700MHz space.