AT&T Defends Position, Shreds Sprint in Spectrum Debate

An AT&T executive on Friday rejected Sprints assertion that AT&T holds the largest amount of licensed spectrum in the industry and is simply hanging onto much of it for future needs rather than using the frequencies today.

AT&T has cited the need for spectrum as a significant benefit of its planned acquisition of T-Mobile USA, but Sprint Nextel CEO Dan Hesse recently told lawmakers on Capitol Hill that AT&Ts assertion is a myth” because the company holds the largest, licensed spectrum holdings of any wireless carrier” but fails to use that spectrum efficiently.”

In a blog posting today, AT&Ts Joan Marsh Vice President of Federal Regulatory said Hesses remarks (before the Senate Judiciary Committees Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights) were particularly odd” considering that Hesse has repeatedly boasted that Sprint has the best spectrum position in the industry.”

Keep in mind that Sprint is a 54 % owner of Clearwire, so it not only has access to its own near-nationwide portfolio of PCS spectrum, but it also has access to Clearwires spectrum holdings as well which is the spectrum supporting Sprints 4G products and services,” Marsh wrote.

Added Marsh: The fact is that Sprint/Clearwires combined spectrum position far surpasses AT&Ts current holdings and will be deeper than AT&Ts holdings post-transaction.”

Marsh also responded to Hesses comments last week that AT&T has decided to store or warehouse” spectrum that could be used today to improve service for its customers.

Sprint claims that we are squatting on and not deploying our AWS and MHz spectrum. Spectrum in these two bands are the foundation for our 4G LTE network deployment, which will commercially launch this summer in certain markets and eventually expand to cover 97 % of all Americans,” Marsh wrote.

Marsh also reiterated AT&Ts position that the merger with T-Mobile USA will enable the company to use spectrum assets more efficiently and roll out wireless broadband services to more Americans.

If approved by U.S. regulators, the merger would make AT&T the largest wireless provider in the United States, surpassing Verizon Wireless and strengthening its lead over Sprint Nextel, the No. 3 wireless operator.

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