San Diego Business Journal

AT&T Acquires Airwave Rights From Qualcomm

Thursday, December 29, 2011

AT&T Inc. said on Dec. 27 that it has wrapped up its $1.93 billion acquisition of airwave rights from Qualcomm Inc.

Qualcomm first announced the deal in December 2010.

Qualcomm announced Dec. 23 that the Federal Communications Commission had approved the deal that would let Dallas-based AT&T use the federally licensed wireless spectrum in the 700 megahertz band. The spectrum covers a geographic area with 300 million people.

Qualcomm had planned to use that spectrum for its FLO TV venture, which it later abandoned because it did not attract sufficient consumer interest.

Before the country’s switch to digital TV in mid-2009, UHF channels 55 and 56 occupied that same radio spectrum.

AT&T has repeatedly said it needs more spectrum, saying its purchase of rival wireless carrier T-Mobile USA Inc. would have helped it on that score. AT&T gave up its pursuit of T-Mobile on Dec. 19, citing opposition from the FCC and the Justice Department. At that time, the telecom company called on the federal government to move “expeditiously” to OK its purchase of Qualcomm spectrum.

— Brad Graves