AT&T has agreed to buy Qualcomm’s 700MHz spectrum holdings for USD1.925 billion. The radio frequencies – currently used for Qualcomm’s Flo mobile TV service – will support AT&T’s launch of Long Term Evolution (LTE) services, due to be launched next year. Qualcomm had previously announced the shutdown of the Flo service from March 2011. According to AT&T, the 700MHz spectrum covers some 300 million people: 12MHz of lower 700MHz D and E block spectrum covering more than 70 million people in five of the top 15 US metro areas (New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and San Francisco) and 6MHz of lower 700MHz D block spectrum covering more than 230 million people across the rest of the country. AT&T said it will use the spectrum as supplemental downlink, using carrier aggregation technology. Designed to deliver substantial capacity gains by enabling unpaired spectrum to be used with paired spectrum, the technology is expected to form part of 3GPP Release 10, also known as LTE-Advanced, which is expected to be finalised next year. The companies expect to close the spectrum sale in the second half of 2011, subject to FCC and Department of Justice approval.
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