Buying and selling spectrum isn’t really anything new — carriers have been doing it for quite some time, but it’s a bit rare when two giant wireless providers make such a deal. Today, Verizon and AT&T have agreed upon a deal that would see AT&T pay $1.9 billion to Verizon in exchange for 39 700MHz spectrum licenses.
The spectrum — specifically in the 700 MHz B band — covers around 42 million people across 18 states, including Florida, Texas, Colorado, and Utah, some areas of which aren’t yet covered by AT&T. The deal will consist of payment in both cash and Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) spectrum, which AT&T seems to be wanting to get rid of more and more in favor of 700MHz spectrum.
The transaction would need to be approved first by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Department of Justice, so we may not see the change until sometime during the second half of 2013. The spectrum that’s being bought is spread out over the US, and it affects larger markets as well, including Chicago, Los Angeles, and Miami.
However, while AT&T looks to be getting rid of its AWS spectrum, Verizon is giving it a second look. AWS is also a spectrum band used by T-Mobile for its 3G and LTE networks. Before today, Verizon has sold, or agreed to sell, 35 of its 77 lower B block licenses to 10 different companies, most of which are smaller regional carriers.