Sat, Dec 24, 2011 - Page 10 News List

AT&T buys Qualcomm’s airwaves, FCC approves


AT&T Inc, the largest US phone company, won approval from US regulators for its US$1.93 billion purchase of Qualcomm Inc airwaves three days after the rejection of its plan to buy T-Mobile USA Inc.

The sale of frequencies covering 300 million people was cleared on Thursday, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said in an order published on its Web site. AT&T can’t use the airwaves in a way that interferes with other wireless carriers, the agency said.

Given the conditions imposed, the proposed deal “would not result in competitive harm that would outweigh the public interest benefits of this transaction,” the FCC said in the order. The agency said the deal would support “our goal of expanding mobile broadband deployment throughout the country.”

Comission Chairman Julius Genachowski recommended on Nov. 22 that his fellow commissioners approve the airwaves sale.

On the same day he moved to oppose AT&T’s proposed merger with smaller wireless competitor T-Mobile. AT&T on Monday abandoned the T-Mobile purchase designed to increase its airwaves holdings.

Qualcomm and Dallas-based AT&T didn’t immediately comment on the approval.

AT&T chief executive officer Randall Stephenson in a statement this week had called on policy makers to “allow the free markets to work” so more airwaves are available and called for the FCC to “expeditiously” approve the acquisition of Qualcomm airwaves.

AT&T agreed in December last year to the purchase of the frequencies, which Qualcomm acquired for a mobile-television service it later closed. The US Department of Justice ended its review of the Qualcomm sale in February, the San Diego-based chipmaker said in a Nov. 23 filing.

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