This story has been updated with comment from AT&T.
Sprint and MetroPCS asked the FCC on Friday to combine its review of AT&T’s buyout of T-Mobile USA with the operator’s recent spectrum purchases in the 700 MHz band.
AT&T plans to buy 44 licenses in the 700 MHz band under a series of deals with eight different telecom companies in addition to its $1.9 billion purchase of Qualcomm’s Flo TV spectrum in the lower 700 MHz band.
Sprint and MetroPCS argued the FCC should review AT&T’s recent spectrum deals in conjunction with its merger with T-Mobile because “they also are part of AT&T’s overall campaign to amass nationwide swathes of spectrum, including ‘beachfront’ 700 MHz licenses.”
“Reviewing these transactions in an uncoordinated, serial manner could mask their collective impact on the public interest as well as their close relationship to the Qualcomm and T-Mobile applications,” the operators said in their petition.
Cincinnati Bell Wireless, nTelos, the Rural Cellular Association and the Rural Telecommunications Group also signed on to Sprint and MetroPCS’ petition.
The operators previously asked the FCC to consolidate its review of AT&T’s acquisition of T-Mobile with the Flo TV deal. The FCC has not said whether it will combine its review of the two separate deals.
“These are completely separate proceedings and should remain so. These deals involve minor spectrum acquisitions and many are completely unopposed and raise no spectrum or competitive issues,” said AT&T spokeswoman Margaret Boles. “We urge the Commission to expeditiously grant these applications pursuant to their normal procedures.”
AT&T previously asked the FCC to disregard the attempt to consolidate the reviews of its purchase of T-Mobile with its purchase of Qualcomm’s Flo TV spectrum.
AT&T, which did not win nationwide 700 MHz spectrum when the FCC auctioned off the former broadcast spectrum in 2008, has a history of buying up 700 MHz spectrum in private deals.
In 2007, it bought Aloha Partners’ 700 MHz licenses for $2.5 billion and announced late last year it planned to buy Qualcomm’s holdings in the band. Beginning in January, AT&T announced a series of smaller deals with regional telecommunications companies for their 700 MHz licenses.
The wireless operator plans to use the spectrum for its LTE network, which is slated to launch in five cities this summer.