AT&T’s purchase of Qualcomm’s spectrum halted by FCC

AT&T is not a company unfamiliar with government regulation. Yesterday the Federal Communications Commission’s chief of Wireless Telecommunications, Rick Kaplan, sent a letter to both AT&T and Qualcomm saying that more time was needed in reviewing AT&T’s purchase of Qualcomm’s 700 MHz spectrum, in a deal worth $1.93 billion.

The slowdown is also on the heels of AT&T’s purchase of T-Mobile last March, which will be halted as well. 

Kaplan said in his letter, “The Commission’s ongoing review has confirmed that the proposed transactions raise a number of related issues, including, but not limited to, questions regarding AT&T’s aggregation of spectrum throughout the nation, particularly in overlapping areas. As a result, we have concluded that the best way to determine whether either or both of the proposed transactions serve the public interest is to consider them in a coordinated manner at this time, without prejudice to independent treatment at a later date.”

The FCC had promised an uphill climb for AT&T in these deals and it appears to have made good on it. Perhaps the one silver lining in the delay for AT&T is that the government is still viewing the T-Mobile and Qualcomm cases separately, rather than combining the two and making a single ruling.

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