Qualcomm sells airwaves to AT&T

AT&T has won approval from US  regulators for its $1.93 billion purchase of Qualcomm airwaves.

The news comes three days after the rejection of its plan to buy T-Mobile USA and so brings the outfit a little bit of Chrimbo cheer after all.

Qualcomm announced that the U.S. FCC has approved the sale of its Lower 700 MHz D and E Block Channel 55 and 56 unpaired US spectrum licenses to AT&T.

The sale by Qualcomm to AT&T of the licenses for $1.925 billion was announced in December, last year. Qualcomm bought the airwaves for a mobile-television service which never took off and wanted to offload them sharpish.

AT&T wants to use these airways as part of its longer term 4G network plan. The frequency will be used as supplemental downlink.

The FCC apparently insisted that AT&T can’t use the airwaves in a way that interferes with other wireless carriers and decided that if it did it that way it would not cause any harm to competition.

That was not the view of the Rural Cellular Association which told the FCC that the plan would diminish competition in the already overly concentrated wireless marketplace. According to Bloomberg, rural phone companies asked the FCC to use the Qualcomm deal to ensure their customers can use AT&T airwaves.

It does not look like their concerns were heard. Analysts questioned by Bloomberg said that AT&T would have been better off spending the cash on its own network as it did not really need the airwaves.

Meanwhile Qualcomm is apparently trying to integrate carrier aggregation technology into its chipset plans and says that it will sell the technology to others. The big idea is to use it in regions where unpaired spectrum bands can be made available for wireless operators.