FCC puts brakes on Qualcomm spectrum acquisition, will review with T-Mobile merger

The Federal Communications Commission announced on Monday that it will review AT&T’s planned $1.925 billion acquisition of Qualcomm’s FLO TV lower 700MHz frequency band at the same time that it reviews the carrier’s T-Mobile USA merger. AT&T announced its intentions to buy spectrum from Qualcomm in December of last year and said it planned to deploy the spectrum as “supplemental downlink” while it built out its 4G network. That acquisition was originally expected to close during the second half of this year, but the FCC clearly has some concerns on the matter. AT&T said the FCC and Department of Justice are on schedule to approve the T-Mobile deal in March 2012, however this could be a ding to AT&T’s 4G network plans if it was relying on having the Qualcomm deal approved by now. The FCC’s statement follows below.

We currently have pending before us the application of AT&T Mobility Spectrum LLC (“AT&T”) and Qualcomm Incorporated (“Qualcomm,”) and together with AT&T, (the “Applicants”) to assign licenses from Qualcomm to AT&T, which has today reached 180 days on the Commission’s informal timeline for consideration of merger applications. As you are aware, the Commission has been evaluating for some time the relationship between this proposed transaction and AT&T’s proposed acquisition of T-Mobile USA (“T-Mobile”). The Commission’s ongoing review has confirmed that the proposed transactions raise a number of related issues, including, but not limited to, questions regarding AT&T’s aggregation of spectrum throughout the nation, particularly in overlapping areas. As a result, we have concluded that the best way to determine whether either or both of the proposed transactions serve the public interest is to consider them in a coordinated matter at this time, without prejudice to independent treatment at a later date.

[Via Phone Scoop]

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