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December 20, 2010 5:15 PM

AT&T Boosts 4G Capability with Qualcomm Deal

Posted by Tom Huddleston Jr.

In a move aimed toward improving its fourth generation (4G) mobile broadband capabilities, communications giant AT&T has agreed to a deal to acquire spectrum licenses from Qualcomm Incorporated for $1.9 billion.

The licenses in question are in the Lower 700 MHz frequency band and currently support the service business of Qualcomm's FLO TV Incorporated, a wholly owned subsidiary of the company. (Qualcomm said in its press release that it plans to shut down FLO TV in March 2011.) The spectrum covers more than 300 million people in the U.S., and will be deployed by AT&T once compatible equipment is developed to improve its mobile broadband capacity.

AT&T turned to Los Angeles-based M&A partner Eric Krautheimer of Sullivan & Cromwell as counsel on the transaction. Krautheimer and the firm have worked with AT&T on various transactions in the past, including the company's 2006 acquisition of BellSouth Corp. for $86 billion.

Arnold & Porter also advised, with partners Scott Feira and William Cook providing regulatory counsel and partner Richard Rosen handling antitrust issues. AT&T's general counsel is D. Wayne Watts.

A DLA Piper team led by San Diego partner Jeff Baglio advised Qualcomm on the deal, with input from competition partner William Cook and antitrust partner Paolo Morante. Wiltshire & Grannis, a technology and telecomm boutique in Washington, D.C., provided FCC advice. Qualcomm's general counsel is Donald Rosenberg.

The agreement is subject to regulatory approvals; the deal is expected to close in the second half of 2011. 

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