AT&T Buys A Little Head Start On 700 MHz Spectrum

from the gotta-start-somewhere dept

Just as the FCC is pushing back the start of the highly anticipated 700 MHz spectrum auction, comes the news that AT&T couldn’t wait for that spectrum to come on the market and decided to buy up a different chunk of 700 MHz spectrum licenses from Aloha Partners for a mere $2.5 billion. There’s plenty of speculation about what the company is planning to do with the spectrum, with some thoughts that it’s going to ditch its Qualcomm partnership for mobile video and go it alone, but that seems like a market that’s DOA.

Instead, it seems likely that this is just the beginning of AT&T lining up to get its hands on the auctioned spectrum to combine with this batch. There’s been plenty of speculation about who might be the top bidder for the spectrum, with random startups, Google and Apple being tossed around as possible names along with the big telcos. Verizon’s been making plenty of noise (apparently both publicly and behind the scenes), but AT&T has always been up there as well. Now, that additional spectrum becomes even more valuable to AT&T, so it might be time to push up how much AT&T is likely to bid on the auctioned spectrum. And, in the worst case, if AT&T doesn’t win the auction, it can use this new spectrum it bought to try to barter a sharing arrangement — or, alternatively, as Glenn Fleishman posits, be able to keep a locked up network going, while whoever buys the auctioned spectrum will have to be more open. If true, that seems likely to backfire. It could give AT&T an initial leg up, but those walled gardens tend to have long-term problems when competing against open systems.

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Companies: at&t

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Comments on “AT&T Buys A Little Head Start On 700 MHz Spectrum”

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Overcast says:

Yeah, AT&T seems real attractive, of course – it will end up being in only certain cities and you’ll only be able to use AT&T in those cites on certain phones and those will only work in certain stores and on certain streets that have contracts with AT&T.

And only be able to pay with Visa, not Mastercard or anything else.

Grantpe says:

Combined forces

If only Google and apple could agree to share and play nicely. A ad supported open high speed network managed by Google, with exclusive ad free connection on Apple products. Sounds good incentive to buy an Apple product such as the iPhone for those who can afford it.

Others could licence the ability to connect with ad from apple and Google jointly. Though this would never happen as Google would want an open standards network while apple would want it all closed source. Oh, and yes, Google and apple, you are free to steal this idea from me this time!

Tony says:

I don't know, mike.

It seems that AT&T might get more than an initial leg-up on the competition by using those licenses (probably in the “B” block) for broadcasting their “U-Verse” product. That’s hardly a DOA market. The fact is that licenses in the A,B and C blocks of the 700MHz spectrum are all 12MHz wide and can be used for all the same purposes. So for them to have acquired a chunk of B block spectrum, they will be able to develop a product that will work fine with the C block spectrum as well, once the FCC auctions it off. I don’t usually disagree with you, but I think this acquisition is a bit bigger than you currently give it credit for.

the tree says:

look over there

HAHA – I am hijaxed your convo…
pay no attention to relevant topics…700 who-the-watts-hertz…
No matter who buys the spectrum space they are not going to be using a credit card. So leave those fascists out of it.
This space is going to go in the 10’s to 100’s of billions. The new wireless capability will sadly be limited though, I would imagine, by the range of 700 MHz devices vs power consumption.
Please Cthulhu…give us some good devices, good range, long battery life, and open networking and programming source capabilities…

Jim says:

AT&T Lower Band C acquisition-BARGAIN

AT&T only got 73 or 74 12Mhz License nationwide so they will need to bid on and win the Lower B Band 12Mhz in those markets it did not get from Aloha. This will also be at a bargain price.
However this will then give then a true 24Mhz of contiguous spectrum (Lower B & C Block) that will allow them to compete aggressively with a Verizon Wireless who will probably win the Upper C Block (22Mhz).
Can’t imagine AT&T having to use the new 700Mhz with their HSDPA and future GSM systems since they claim true broadband with these Cell nets. They will be able to influence what the consumer handheld design will be.


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