Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) said it hired investment bank Loop Capital Markets to help it manage the proposed sale of its 700 MHz Lower A and B Block licenses. Verizon has agreed to sell the 700 MHz spectrum if it receives regulatory approval for its $3.9 billion purchase of nationwide AWS spectrum from a group of cable companies.
Loop Capital will work with Stephens Inc. to assist in the sale. Verizon said that the two companies "will reach out to a wide range of potential bidders, including minority-owned and female-owned businesses."
U.S. Cellular has indicated in a regulatory filing that it is interested in buying Verizon's 700 MHz spectrum (it already owns some A Block spectrum), but has said the sale did not override the need for the FCC to issue interoperability requirements for the Lower 700 MHz band. Such a mandate would require carriers to sell phones that support multiple 700 MHz bands, not just the bands they own licenses in.
Last week the FCC pressed Verizon for more details about the proposed sale. In a letter to John Scott, Verizon Wireless' general counsel, Rick Kaplan, the chief of the FCC's wireless bureau, asked pointed questions about why Verizon has now chosen to potentially give up the 700 MHz spectrum it spent billions of dollars on in 2008. In the letter, Kaplan noted that Verizon's Lower A and B Block spectrum covers around 175 million POPs, but that as of January 2012 Verizon had not deployed the spectrum (Verizon's existing LTE network, using 700 MHz Upper C Block spectrum, covers two-thirds of the U.S population).
Kaplan noted that Verizon's Lower A and B Block licenses have buildout requirements that mandate coverage to 35 percent of the licensed geographic areas by mid-2013. "What steps to date, if any, has Verizon Wireless taken to deploy mobile services using the Lower 700 MHz A of B block licenses (either or both)?" Kaplan asked. "On what timetable has Verizon Wireless been planning to deploy mobile service in these Lower 700 MHz blocks?" Kaplan also asked for Verizon's assessment of the challenges of deploying Lower 700 MHz A Block spectrum.
- see this release
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this Reuters article
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