Light Reading

AT&T Wants to Buy Sprint's WCS Spectrum

Dan Jones
5/13/2014
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AT&T is finally going after Sprint's WCS spectrum holdings for its own 4G LTE purposes.

Fierce Wireless reports that AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) has filed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to purchase Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S)'s 19 WCS licenses.

It has long been expected that AT&T could go after Sprint's 2.3GHz spectrum holdings. Sprint holds an average of 1 MHz or more of the spectrum across top markets in many of the southern US states. (See Sprint Could Make Millions Selling WCS to AT&T.)

In the summer of 2012, UBS AG analyst John Hodulik suggested that Sprint could make $130 million by selling its WCS licenses to AT&T. Ma Bell has made similar deals with Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and Horizon Wi-Com. It got the bulk of the licenses by acquiring NextWave. (See AT&T to Buy NextWave for 'Alternative' 4G.)

AT&T got approval from the FCC to use the spectrum late in 2012. Executives have said that it will go into commercial service in 2015. (See AT&T Gets WCS Approval, Adds 4G Markets.)

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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MordyK
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MordyK,
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/15/2014 | 7:25:22 AM
Re: About time
WHile there's no real rush, they do need a sense of certainty on a decent footprint before they make a real investment of support through the hardware chain, incl. base stations, CEP and UE's depending on the deployment and business models the spectrum is intended for.
DanJones
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DanJones,
User Rank: Blogger
5/14/2014 | 2:45:56 PM
Re: Use?
Hah!
KBode
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KBode,
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/14/2014 | 2:45:10 PM
Re: Use?
I'm sure any money spent on WCS spectrum very quickly pays for itself when you're charging rural Netflix users with no other broadband options $10-$15 per gigabyte. :)
DanJones
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DanJones,
User Rank: Blogger
5/14/2014 | 2:29:42 PM
Re: Use?
I would think WCS would be the spectrum that might work for that.
KBode
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KBode,
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/14/2014 | 2:19:33 PM
Re: Use?
I'm surprised I haven't seen more of a push for a fixed-line service like Verizon's Home Fusion. Especially given all their fuss about the "IP trasition" and their desire to back away from DSL markets. I guess they offer "AT&T Wireless Home Phone and Internet," but I'm surprised they haven't offered a more robust "cantenna" version of that.
DanJones
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DanJones,
User Rank: Blogger
5/14/2014 | 1:39:56 PM
The real question...
The real question is how much AT&T will pay? Has the value of the spectrum gone up since 2012? Could we be looking at a $150M deal, or more?
DanJones
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DanJones,
User Rank: Blogger
5/14/2014 | 1:38:14 PM
Re: About time
I doubt they were in a super rush. Who else was going to buy it?

 

Remember that FCC only approved for use at the end of 2012 and they'll still need to get basestations and user/CPE terminals online in order to start service of some nature in 2015.
DanJones
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DanJones,
User Rank: Blogger
5/14/2014 | 11:27:55 AM
Re: Use?
I've seen the suggestions that it will be used for in-flight LTE but I do wonder about that IRL. There have been concerns about potential interference using mobile WCS transmitters. AT&T probably doesn't any whiff of LightSquared-like issues around WCS.

Fixed wireless services still seems like an option to me.

 

 

See below for more on interference possibilities:

http://books.google.com/books?id=U-3Cwhk8om8C&pg=PA112&lpg=PA112&dq=commercial+satellites+operating+in+WCS+spectrum&source=bl&ots=KZQC7fehgm&sig=IKel1WJcjVcYMa-a5zm8ChjOtDY&hl=en&sa=X&ei=FopzU8_YC9besASU5YC4Dw&ved=0CCsQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q=commercial%20satellites%20operating%20in%20WCS%20spectrum&f=false

 

 

 
fgoldstein
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fgoldstein,
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/14/2014 | 11:23:02 AM
Re: Use?
No doubt the obvious purpose.  To put one base station on line in each market in order to meet requirements, and to otherwise prevent a competitor from making use of it.
KBode
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KBode,
User Rank: Light Sabre
5/14/2014 | 8:32:15 AM
Use?
So what's AT&T's WCS spectrum going to be put to work for? Their upcoming in-flight broadband service?
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