In a deal valued in excess of $1.9 billion, QUALCOMM has agreed to sell spectrum licenses in the lower 700-MHz band to AT&T. Currently, QUALCOMM uses those licenses to support FLO TV, Inc.a wholly owned subsidiary, which it expects to shut down in March.
The spectrum provides coverage for more than 300 million users nationwide. In five of the top 15 US metropolitan areas, 12 MHz of lower 700-MHz D- and E-block spectrum covers more than 70 million people. Across the rest of the US, 6 MHz of lower 700-MHz D-block spectrum covers more than 230 million people.
As part of its longer-term, fourth-generation (4G) network plans, AT&T intends to deploy this spectrum as a supplemental downlink using carrier-aggregation technology. This technology 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. For its part, QUALCOMM anticipates integrating carrier-aggregation technology into its chipset roadmap. In doing so, it will enable the supplemental downlink to address increased consumer demand for rich mobile-media content. AT&T has announced plans to deploy this technology on an ongoing basis.