In order to grease the wheels for its blockbuster purchase of the cable operators 4G spectrum, Verizon Wireless promised regulators that it would return a bunch of unused 700 MHz licenses to the market – a move we described as trading beachfront spectrum for penthouse airwaves. Keeping its promise, Verizon has started selling off its 700 MHz frequencies, but at least for now, it’s parceling them out one license at a time.
Verizon has announced to two spectrum sales, each for a single rural license: Panhandle Telecommunications will get a 10 MHz chunk covering 12 northwest Texas counties while fellow Texas provider Nortex Communications will take possession of a 12 MHz block in four counties north of Dallas. Verizon said it has deals with seven more operators covering 24 licenses in the pipe, though there’s no word whether these deals are for more rural licenses or for Verizon’s metro market airwaves.
Verizon is selling some very attractive 700 MHz frequencies in some of the country’s biggest markets. Verizon has already traded away one of valuable Chicago licenses to Leap Wireless, but it has another spare 12 MHz in the Windy City for sale, as well as significant holdings in big cities from Los Angeles in New York.
The wild card in all of this is AT&T. It’s the only operator of the big four that uses the lower 700 MHz for LTE, and it could find Verizon’s B-block licenses very useful for filling out its nationwide 4G footprint.