AT&T has added to its Advanced Wireless Service (AWS) spectrum cache with the acquisition of 49 licenses in the 1710-1755 MHz and 2110-2155 MHz bands from Aloha Partners II, covering nearly 50 million people in 14 states, including California, Colorado, Connecticut, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas.
As a result of recent spectrum consolidation (AT&T purchase of LEAP and T-Mobile’s buy of US Cellular’s AWS spectrum), Aloha Partners stood as the largest remaining independent AWS spectrum holder, according to Wells Fargo Senior Analyst Jennifer Fritzsche.
“This is an important transaction for AT&T, in our view, because it adds capacity to its AWS spectrum holdings, notably to the AWS received from its acquisition of LEAP,” Fritzsche wrote in a research note. “We note the importance of AWS to AT&T as the spectrum is what we characterize as ‘plug and play’ in that there is already a developed ecosystem and most phones already support this spectrum for roaming.”
Aloha Partners Deal Dovetails LEAP Spectrum Buy
Last July, AT&T purchased LEAP Wireless, which had frequencies in the PCS and AWS bands that were complementary to AT&T’s existing spectrum. LEAP had spectrum covering 41 million pops, which AT&T plans to use for 4G LTE deployment.
The LEAP deal provided AT&T with 20 megahertz of spectrum in metro areas including Las Vegas, San Diego, Washington, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Denver, Cincinnati, Charlotte, Chicago, Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Phoenix.
AT&T is deploying AWS for LTE until the Wireless Communications Service (2.3 GHz) comes online, which is scheduled for 2015.
Formed in 2004, Aloha Partners II purchased 15 licenses covering 38 million pops from the FCC in the Advanced Wireless Spectrum (AWS) auction. In 2007 and 2008, Aloha Partners II purchased an additional 37 AWS licenses covering 12 million pops from Nextwave Wireless. Before the sale, Aloha Partners II said it was the eighth-largest owner of spectrum in the United States, with licenses that cover 50 million people.
Originally, Aloha Partners II had planned to build its own wireless broadband networks. But faced with the growth in data demand from smartphones and tablets, the company said on its website that it no longer believed it had sufficient spectrum to meet demand and was considering joint ventures with existing wireless carriers to implement its strategy.