Verizon Wireless is paying $3.6 billion for 122 AWS spectrum licenses owned by Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks.
The airwaves cover 259 million people and will be used add capacity to Verizon’s LTE network, which mainly runs on its nationwide footprint of 700 MHz spectrum.
“Spectrum is the raw material on which wireless networks are built, and buying the AWS spectrum now solidifies our network leadership into the future, and will enable us to bring even better 4G LTE products and services to our customers,” Verizon Wireless President and CEO Dan Mead said in a statement.
“In terms of Verizon’s immediate LTE ambitions, this gives them a pretty significant advantage,” says Hillol Roy, associate fellow at IBB Consulting.
The cable companies paid $2.4 billion for the airwaves in the FCC’s 2006 spectrum auction through their SpectrumCo joint venture, but let the bandwidth lay fallow. Under the terms of the deal, Comcast will receive $2.3 billion; Time Warner Cable will get $1.1 billion and Bright House Networks will get $189 million.
The deal will allow them to realize some of their long-standing wireless ambitions through wholesale deals with Verizon.
The cable operators have the option to sell Verizon’s cellular service on a wholesale basis, and the companies will also sell each other’s products. The companies also formed a joint venture with Verizon aimed at developing technology that will better integrate wireline and wireless products and services.
“These agreements, together with our Wi-Fi plans, enable us to execute a comprehensive, long-term wireless strategy,” Comcast President Neil Smit said in a statement.
The transaction still has to pass approval from the FCC and a review by the Justice Department.