FCC Gives AT&T Wireless Go Ahead To Purchase Qualcomm Spectrum

As promised the Federal Communications Commission quickly reexamined AT&T’s purchase of Qualcomm wireless spectrum after the company abandoned their $39 billion takeover bid of T-Mobile USA following pressure from the agency and other governmental officials.

Qualcomm had purchased its 700MHz frequencies for the short-lived Flo TV service and AT&T Wireless will need to guarantee against interference while allowing other cellular networks to roam on the spectrum once it’s put into place.

Once completed the deal would take effect at the end of 2011 and would provide Qualcomm with $1.9 billion in cash.

The FCC had hinted at a Qualcomm spectrum approval if AT&T Wireless withdrew their T-Mobile acquisition. AT&T executives had long maintained that the T-Mobile USA buyout was necessary because they required more wireless spectrum to increase their mobile data network capabilities.

The deal has still raised concerns from AT&T’s competitors including Verizon and Sprint Wireless who say AT&T has not had to make any concessions which would require their spectrum to be compatible with CDMA providers. While phones could still be made to interoperate it would be up to the company’s competitors to ensure that was the case. AT&T could technically offer customers devices that would not work should they choose to switch to a new carrier.

The FCC could redeem themselves in the eyes of carriers in early 2012 when they will rule on whether or not LET networks need to be compatible with one another.

AT&T however isn’t the only wireless provider to pick up new wireless spectrum space, in early December Verizon Wireless announced a new agreement with several cable operators that would provide North America’s largest wireless carrier with new spectrum, a deal worth $3.6 billion.

Do you believe AT&T Wireless should be able allowed to purchase the Qualcomm mobile spectrum without any major anti-competitive clauses put into place?