AT&T says it has completed the acquisition of spectrum from rival operator Verizon Wireless that will help it speed up the deployment of its high-speed 4G network.
The operator has paid $1.9 billion for a swathe of 700MHz licenses covering some 42 million people in 18 states.
Besides the cash payment, AT&T (Dallas, TX, USA) has also transferred to Verizon (New York City, NY, USA) several Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) licenses covering Phoenix (AZ), Los Angeles (CA), Fresno (CA), Albuquerque (NM) and Portland (OR).
AT&T is under pressure from Verizon to increase the availability of its 4G services but claims its network now covers 225 million people across the country and will reach as many as 270 million by the end of the year.
It also claims to provide the “fastest and most reliable” network in the US, citing speed tests and market research conducted by PCWorld/TechHive.
Verizon would undoubtedly take issue with those claims, and insists that its own 4G network already covers more than 95% of the US population.
Smaller rivals Sprint (Overland Park, KS, USA) and T-Mobile (Bellevue, WA, USA) have lagged on the deployment of their own 4G services, but they are both working hard to address their shortcomings.
Sprint was recently boosted by its sale to Japan’s SoftBank (Tokyo), which is expected to provide additional funds for the deployment of the high-speed technology, and its takeover of spectrum-rich Clearwire (Bellevue, WA, USA), while T-Mobile is partway through an aggressive network modernization program aimed largely at improving the coverage and quality of its 4G infrastructure.
Meanwhile, US authorities are gearing up to release more spectrum to the country’s operators next year, with demand for mobile broadband services expected to grow significantly over the next few years.
The government’s plan is partly dependent on persuading broadcasting companies to give up some of their frequency holdings, although spectrum currently used by federal authorities has also been earmarked for sale to the telecoms sector.