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[qi:045] As Google (GOOG) and Verizon (VZ) duke it out over the forthcoming 700 MHz spectrum auction, AT&T (T) has decided to spend the money and buy its way into the market. The company has announced that it is acquiring licenses in the 700 MHz spectrum from Aloha Partners, a privately-held spectrum speculator, for about $2.5 billion.
The licenses cover roughly 196 million POPs in 281 markets, including 72 of the top 100 and all the top 10 markets in the U.S., according to the AT&T press release. UBS analysts estimate that this works out to about $1.06/MHz/POP, which is twice the price paid last year as part of the AWS auctions.
The upcoming auction in the A and B spectrum blocks has reserved prices of $0.50/MHz/POP and $0.38/MHz/POP. UBS expects that will rise to at least $1/MHz/POP. AT&T just set that price.