Originally published: June 12, 2012
Last updated: June 12, 2012 - 7:07pm
AT&T's chief said that his company is watching to see if federal regulators approve Verizon's bid to buy spectrum from a group of cable firms so that the industry has clearer guidance on what types of deals are acceptable. "We're all watching the Verizon deal very closely, because we think that will provide a good indication in terms of what the FCC's position is on spectrum aggregation and how much spectrum can be owned and so forth," AT&T Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson said during a discussion on mobile technologies at the Brookings Institution.
Stephenson also indicated his firm may have more interest in the Verizon transaction than just wanting clearer guidance from the Federal Communications Commission on what deals will pass muster. Stephenson said AT&T would make a bid for spectrum in the 700-megahertz band that Verizon said it would sell if regulators approve its bid to buy more desirable airwaves from the cable firms. Verizon's "spectrum pairs perfectly with ours," Stephenson said. "If we were to have access to that spectrum, we could put it to work in 60 days." Stephenson argued that access to more spectrum is an issue all wireless carriers face and was one of the reasons why his firm sought to buy T-Mobile. Stephenson said the federal government needs to be more aggressive in freeing up more spectrum. He added that proposals for wireless operators to share spectrum with federal agencies does not address the industry's immediate problems, saying demand for access to wireless broadband will out strip supply by next year. He said his firm is already running out of spectrum in some markets, but declined to name which ones. "Our problem is not a long-haul problem, it's a now problem," he said.
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