Feature Article

January 25, 2013

Verizon Wireless Moves to Close Various Spectrum License Transactions

According to a note recently posted on Verizon Wireless’ News website/blog, the company has announced that it has managed to sign a collection of agreements that now complete various700 MHz spectrum license transactions. These include license sale, purchase and lease agreements. The agreements include the transactions listed below, some of which may sound a bit like a game of mutual chairs.

Verizon Wireless will sell 39 lower 700 MHz B Block licenses to AT&T Wireless in exchange for a payment of $1.9 billion. Many of the affected areas included in the 39 licenses being acquired by AT&T Wireless are in major markets, including Chicago, Miami, Cincinnati and Los Angeles. The transaction will also include the transfer by AT&T to Verizon Wireless of AWS (10 MHz) licenses in various western markets. These markets will include Los Angeles, Phoenix, Fresno and Portland.

Verizon Wireless will also sell lower 700 MHz B Block licenses covering the Charlotte, Greensboro and Raleigh-Durham markets in North Carolina to Grain Management, a private equity firm based in Sarasota, FL that invests in the telecommunications sector for $189 million. Verizon Wireless, in turn, will lease from Grain Management an AWS license that will cover Dallas, which Grain is in the process of buying from AT&T.

Finally, through its LTE in Rural America program, Verizon Wireless will lease upper 700 MHz C block spectrum to 20 rural operators in order to jumpstart 4G LTE in rural areas.

The agreements were reached as a result of Verizon Wireless’ spectrum sale process announced last spring for its lower 700 MHz spectrum licenses. To date, seven companies, including those in this announcement, have signed license purchase agreements as a result of the sale process; five are small or regional telecom carriers and one is a minority-owned firm. Prior to the transactions announced today, Verizon Wireless has sold or agreed to sell 35 of its 77 lower B block licenses to 10 different entities, including transactions that were initiated prior to the sale process. The agreements signed today will complete the lower 700 MHz sale process.

The transactions are all subject to approval by the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice. We cannot see any scenarios under which the deals won’t be approved and we should expect to see them all close quickly.

Edited by Brooke Neuman

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