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FCC Gives AT&T Permission to Purchase NEATT Spectrum

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Jul 24, 2012, 1:08 PM   by Eric M. Zeman   @zeman_e

The Federal Communications Commission today concluded that AT&T's 2010 proposal to purchase 13 PCS spectrum licenses from NEATT won't result in competitive harm and will serve the public interest. The spectrum licenses in question pertain to five cellular markets covering 25 counties and approximately 690,000 points of presence across Arkansas. According to AT&T, the PCS 1900MHz spectrum will help improve its UMTS/HSPA coverage in the region. The licenses were originally held by AT&T and divested in order for AT&T to gain FCC approval of its acquisition of Cingular Wireless in 2004. The FCC is, in effect, giving AT&T permission to take the spectrum back. The spectrum is being purchased by AT&T subsidiary New Cingular. The FCC said, "The proposed acquisition of NEATT's broadband PCS licenses is unlikely to cause competitive or other public interest harms and that it is in the public interest to grant the application." NEATT has been trying to sell this block of spectrum for several years, and AT&T has thus far been the only bidder. If AT&T were not allowed to purchase the spectrum, it would continue to law fallow, as NEATT has been unable to put it to use.


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