In separate transactions, AT&T Mobility and US Cellular are looking to purchase a number of 700MHz licences, chiefly from Cox Communications, Fierce Wireless reports. Pending Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approval, AT&T is hoping to buy eight Lower 700MHz ‘B Block’ licences from Cox, covering areas on the East Coast, including cities in Florida and Virginia. Cox originally paid around USD28 million for the concessions during the FCC’s 700MHz spectrum auction in 2008. Separately, US Cellular has purchased four Lower 700MHz ‘A Block’ licences from Cox, mainly covering locations in Kansas. Cox originally paid around USD30 million for the frequencies. The terms of the deals have not been disclosed by any of the parties.
The spectrum deals represent the further withdrawal of Cox from the wireless sector. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, in August 2008 Cox, the third largest cable broadband operator in the US, announced its intention to move into the cellular market as a mobile broadband operator, after setting up a wholly owned subsidiary for the purpose, Cox TMI Wireless. It spent USD300 million on 22 regional 700MHz concessions in March that year in the FCC’s Auction 73, augmenting the Advanced Wireless Service (AWS) frequencies that it gained access to via its participation in the SpectrumCo joint venture that won 137 licences in Auction 66. However, in May 2011 it was reported that Cox intended to shut down the independent wireless network that it had started building, preferring instead to rely on a pre-existing mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) agreement with Sprint Nextel for its wireless needs. In December 2011 Verizon said it would buy Cox’s 20MHz of AWS spectrum, covering 28 million PoPs for USD315 million.
In other news, AT&T Mobility has also acquired four Lower 700MHz ‘C Block’ licences from the Peoples Telephone Cooperative, covering locations mainly in Texas. AT&T intends to use the spectrum to deploy Long Term Evolution (LTE) services. At this juncture it is unclear what impact the deal will have on the Texan firm’s own 4G ambitions. As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate Peoples Telephone Cooperative inaugurated its own LTE network in mid-February, utilising spectrum in the 700MHz frequency band.