AT&T has announced it will buy Qualcomm's FLO TV spectrum, with the lower 700MHz band being earmarked for the carrier's future 4G ambitions. In a deal worth $1.925bn, AT&T will eventually use carrier aggregation technology developed by Qualcomm for its new mobile chipsets that will see the 700MHz bands used to boost 4G downlink speeds.
The carrier aggregation system will allow unpaired bands to be combined with existing paired bands, and thus higher overall bandwidth be opened up to users. AT&T says it will deploy the new spectrum in that manner "once compatible handsets and network equipment are developed", though there's no timescale for that to happen.
Qualcomm expects to shut down its FLO TV services by the end of March 2011, though the AT&T sale isn't expected to be finalized - regulators permitting - until the second half of 2011. The 700MHz spectrum in question apparently more than covers 300 million people total nationwide.
AT&T Agrees to Acquire Wireless Spectrum from Qualcomm
Spectrum to help AT&T continue to enhance the mobile broadband experience nationwide
AT&T* and Qualcomm Incorporated announced today that AT&T has agreed to purchase spectrum licenses in the Lower 700 MHz frequency band from Qualcomm for $1.925 billion. The move will bolster AT&T’s ability to provide an advanced 4G mobile broadband experience for its customers in the years ahead.
Qualcomm currently uses the licenses to support the service business of FLO TV Incorporated, a wholly owned subsidiary of Qualcomm, and the sale follows Qualcomm’s previously announced plan to evaluate strategic options for the FLO TV business. Qualcomm expects that the FLO TV business and network will be shut down in March 2011.
The spectrum covers more than 300 million people total nationwide: 12 MHz of Lower 700 MHz D and E block spectrum covers more than 70 million people in five of the top 15 U.S. metropolitan areas — New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and San Francisco; 6 MHz of Lower 700 MHz D block spectrum covers more than 230 million people across the rest of the U.S.
As part of its longer-term 4G network plans, AT&T intends to deploy this spectrum as supplemental downlink, using carrier aggregation technology. This technology is designed to deliver substantial capacity gains and is expected to be enabled with the completion of 3GPP Release 10. AT&T expects to begin deploying this spectrum once compatible handsets and network equipment are developed.
As more fully described in its separate announcement today, Qualcomm intends to integrate carrier aggregation technology into its chipset roadmap, to enable supplemental downlink to address increased consumer demand for rich mobile media content. AT&T expects to deploy this technology, demonstrating its commitment to deliver a great mobile broadband experience — now and in the future.
The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions, and AT&T and Qualcomm anticipate closing the sale during the second half of calendar year 2011.
Qualcomm Announces Agreement for Sale of 700 MHz Spectrum Licenses
SAN DIEGO – December 20, 2010 – Qualcomm Incorporated (NASDAQ: QCOM) today announced that it has agreed to sell its Lower 700 MHz D and E Block (Channel 55 and 56) unpaired U.S. spectrum licenses to AT&T for $1.925 billion. The sale follows Qualcomm’s previously announced plan to restructure and evaluate strategic options related to the FLO TV business operated by FLO TV Incorporated, a wholly owned subsidiary of Qualcomm. It is expected that the FLO TV business and network will be shut down in March 2011.
AT&T announced today that as part of its longer-term 4G network plan, it intends to deploy this spectrum as supplemental downlink, using carrier aggregation technology. This technology is designed to deliver substantial capacity gains by enabling unpaired spectrum to be used in conjunction with paired spectrum.
“ This is a positive outcome for Qualcomm and our stakeholders... ”
- Dr. Paul Jacobs
Qualcomm CEO & Chairman
Qualcomm is integrating carrier aggregation technology into its chipset roadmap to enable supplemental downlink and intends to market the technology globally. This new technology is expected to create opportunities around the world in markets where unpaired spectrum bands can be made available for wireless operators to use in conjunction with existing paired bands to obtain substantial improvements in their mobile broadband networks.
Qualcomm plans to take advantage of its experience in broadcast technology to develop LTE multicast technologies that address the rapidly growing demand for high-bandwidth video and other multimedia content.
“This is a positive outcome for Qualcomm and our stakeholders,” said Paul Jacobs, chairman and CEO of Qualcomm. “Carrier aggregation, supplemental downlink and LTE multicast technologies are an exciting evolution of next generation wireless systems to economically support increasing consumer demand for mobile TV and other rich media content. We will continue to drive the development and delivery of these new capabilities, which build on our technology leadership and deep experience with 3G, 4G and broadcast technologies.”
Completion of the spectrum transaction is subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions, including approval by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission and clearance from the U.S. Department of Justice. Qualcomm and AT&T anticipate closing the sale during the second half of calendar 2011. The proceeds will be received at closing.
Restructuring charges related to the FLO TV service business were previously estimated to be in the range of $125 million to $175 million in fiscal 2011, primarily related to certain contractual obligations, with the potential for additional charges depending on the outcome of the evaluation of strategic options for the business. As a result of this agreement to sell the spectrum licenses, it is anticipated that additional charges will be incurred related to the shut down of the FLO TV network and associated business exit costs.