Verizon Wireless has agreed to pay $3.6 billion to buy licenses for mobile spectrum covering 259 million U.S. residents from SpectrumCo, a joint venture of three cable providers.
The SpectrumCo partners -- Comcast, Time Warner and Bright House Networks -- paid $2.4 billion for 137 Advanced Wireless Services licenses auctioned by the Federal Communications Commission in 2006. They're selling 122 of those AWS licenses to Verizon, with Comcast receiving $2.3 billion, Time Warner $1.1 billion and Bright House $189 million. Each company's take reflects its ownership stake in SpectrumCo.
Most of SpectrumCo's licenses have gone unused, and the National Association of Broadcasters has criticized the three partners for hoarding unused wireless capacity at a time when the FCC and mobile carriers are asking TV stations to give up some of their spectrum.
The deal, which is subject to FCC approval, will allow Verizon to offer better 4G services, said Dan Mead, president and CEO of Verizon Wireless, in a statement. "Spectrum is the raw material on which wireless networks are built, and buying the AWS spectrum now solidifies our network leadership into the future."
This version of this story was originally published in Computerworld's print edition. It was adapted from an article that appeared earlier on Computerworld.com.