FCC Approves AT&T Spectrum Buys from Comcast, NextWave Wireless

The Federal Communications Commission has approved a handful of spectrum acquisitions proposed by AT&T that the carrier hopes will help it better compete with rival Verizon Wireless.

Among them is AT&T’s acquisition of San Diego-based NextWave Wireless for $600 million. Most of that amount pays off NexWave’s debt. The former Ma Bell is also getting under-used spectrum from Comcast, Horizon Wi-Com and the San Diego Gas & Electric Co. AT&T expects to put its newly acquired assets into use as soon as 2015.

These are just four of two-dozen spectrum deals proposed by AT&T in 2012. America’s second-largest U.S. wireless operator is behind Verizon Wireless both in terms of subscriber numbers and the amount of airwaves it has accumulated.

Smartphones and other mobile devices put a strain on carrier networks and impact the amount of traffic they can carry. AT&T and other wireless companies argue that more spectrum will help them offer better, faster services. This FCC order in particular cites how the transfer will boost high-speed mobile Internet on AT&T’s network.

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