Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) said it sold a portion of its lower 700 MHz B Block spectrum to Nortex Communications, a small operator based in Muenster, Texas. The deal is the first confirmed sale by Verizon of its lower 700 MHz A or B Block licenses.
In a statement, Verizon said Nortex will acquire the Texas RSA 6-Jack 700 MHz lower B Block license, which covers a four-county area northwest of Dallas, subject to FCC approval. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Verizon spokeswoman Robin Nicol told FierceWireless that the carrier is looking at bids for the carrier's remaining 700 MHz A and B Block licenses, and could not comment on the size or timing of potential future sales of the spectrum. "We are reviewing the bids," she said. "As that process goes on and agreements are reached we will make announcements."
Verizon agreed to sell its 700 MHz Lower A and B Block spectrum if the FCC approved its $3.9 billion purchase of nationwide AWS spectrum from a group of cable companies. The FCC approved the deal in August. Verizon said in August that there were 64 companies interested in buying its 700 MHz spectrum. Verizon spent a total of $9.36 billion on its 700 MHz spectrum during the FCC's 2008 auction, with around $4.4 billion of that going to A and B Block licenses.
Interestingly, Verizon said "although the sale to Nortex is the first to be signed as a result of the announced sale process," it has previously sold 24 of its lower 700 MHz spectrum licenses to seven different telecommunications companies operating in 13 states. The company said it is currently evaluating bids for its other lower 700 MHz spectrum licenses.
Some of the companies rumored to be interested in the spectrum include AT&T Mobility (NYSE:T) and U.S. Cellular (NYSE:USM).
Last week at an investor conference Verizon Communications CFO Fran Shammo said that the carrier has had "serious discussions going on around some of that spectrum. Again, I'd be remiss not to mention that some people thought that this was a bargain purchase, which I've continually said it's not. And I think what we are seeing is that there are certain portions of the spectrum that I think if we could get serious, I think we could sell."
"But then there is other portions that we're probably not going to sell, and we are developing those internal plans to launch that spectrum within our portfolio," he said. "So it is too soon yet. I think we have to let this process play out. And as I said, I think it will play out by the first quarter and then we will have more to report on."
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