Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

AT&T to pay $1.9-billion for Verizon spectrum

Dan Mead, left, CEO of Verizon Wireless, and Tim Cook, then-COO of Apple, announce that Verizon Wireless will carry Apple’s iPhone, Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2011 in New York.

Mark Lennihan/AP

AT&T Inc. has inked two deals worth more than $2.68-billion (U.S.) this week as it accelerates its push to expand its wireless spectrum holdings to beef up capacity for high-speed services.

The No 2. U.S. mobile provider said on Friday that it agreed to buy wireless airwaves from Verizon Communications Inc. for $1.9-billion in cash, plus spectrum licences that it will contribute to Verizon Wireless in five markets.

The Verizon Wireless deal was announced just days after AT&T said it will pay $780-million in cash to buy Atlantic Tele-Network Inc.'s Alltel wireless business, which includes spectrum and 585,000 customers.

Story continues below advertisement

In 2012 the company forged a total of 50 spectrum deals that increased its national spectrum holdings by a third, AT&T chief executive Randall Stephenson said during the company's quarterly conference call on Thursday.

The operator, which needs to catch up with Verizon Wireless in a high-speed wireless network upgrade, has been seeking smaller spectrum deals since the failure in late 2011 of its $39-billion bid to buy T-Mobile USA, a unit of Deutsche Telekom AG, due to regulatory opposition.

AT&T, Verizon Wireless and their smaller rivals are all looking to bolster their capacity so they can profit from increasing consumer demand for mobile internet services for smartphones, tablet computers and other devices.

Wells Fargo analyst Jennifer Fritzsche said that the deal was positive for both companies and gives AT&T spectrum in important markets such as Chicago, Los Angeles and Miami.

"While on the surface this appears to be a rich price, we would note that the B block licences that AT&T is acquiring are concentrated in major metropolitan markets," Ms. Fritzsche said.

The deals announced this week follow AT&T's August agreement to buy wireless company NextWave Wireless Inc. for its spectrum holdings for $50-million and $550-million of debt.

AT&T said the Verizon Wireless licences it is buying, for airwaves in the 700 megahertz spectrum range, cover a population of 42 million in 18 U.S. states.

Story continues below advertisement

It said it expects to close the deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, in the second half of 2013.

Verizon Wireless, a venture of Verizon Communications and Vodafone Group PLC, committed to sell a chunk of spectrum last year while it was seeking approval for its agreement to buy spectrum from cable operators.

Report an error
Comments

The Globe invites you to share your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful to everyone. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

We’ve made some technical updates to our commenting software. If you are experiencing any issues posting comments, simply log out and log back in.

Discussion loading… ✨

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Combined Shape Created with Sketch.

Thank you!

You are now subscribed to the newsletter at

You can unsubscribe from this newsletter or Globe promotions at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of the newsletter, or by emailing us at privacy@globeandmail.com.