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December 21, 2010

Qualcomm Sells FLO TV Spectrum Licenses To AT&T

US technology firm Qualcomm, after announcing it would end its FLO TV service in October, announced Monday it was selling its US wireless spectrum licenses to telecom giant AT&T for more than 1.9 billion dollars.

AT&T said it had agreed to buy out the licenses in the 700 MHz frequency band, which would help provide advanced 4G mobile broadband.

The lower 700 MHz spectrum frequency band AT&T is buying covers more than 300 million people in the United States, the companies said in a joint statement.

The transaction will be subject to Federal Communications Commission and US Justice Department approvals before the deal is finalized. Both companies said they anticipate the deal will close in the second half of 2011.

FLO TV provides live television broadcasts to subscribers but the service never really took off. Qualcomm told AFP Monday that it will shut down the service, which delivered broadcast video to smartphones, entirely in March.

As part of its longer-term 4G network plans, AT&T intends to deploy this spectrum as supplemental downlink, using carrier aggregation technology, the company said in a statement to Reuters.

It expects to begin deploying the spectrum once compatible handsets and network equipment are developed.

The 700 MHz airwaves are valuable because they travel long distances and can penetrate thick walls.

The 700 MHz band was formerly used by US television stations, but the U.S. Congress voted in late 2005 to require stations to vacate the spectrum and move to all-digital broadcasts. US television stations exited the 700 MHz spectrum in 2009.

Qualcomm has been trying to sell the spectrum and was in talks with wireless operators including Verizon Wireless.

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