Report: Qualcomm In Talks To Sell MediaFLO Spectrum To AT&T


Credit: Tricia Duryee

When Qualcomm (NSDQ: QCOM) decided in October to cancel FLO TV, its mobile TV effort, after struggles with devices and low subscribers, some options mulled by CEO Paul Jacobs were to use the MediaFLO spectrum to distribute other content, put it into a joint venture, or sell it. Today one potential buyer emerged: AT&T.

The mobile carrier has been in talks with Qualcomm to buy the spectrum used for the MediaFLO service, according to a report in Bloomberg.

Qualcomm acquired the spectrum, which covers the U.S. in 6-megahertz blocks in the 700-megahertz band, in federal auctions between 2003 and 2008. In total it paid $683 million. But with the rise in mobile data usage, some believe that the spectrum, if resold, could go for as high as $1 billion.

The report notes that Qualcomm has been speaking with several carriers, although Verizon Wireless and T-Mobile were not among them.

AT&T (NYSE: T) has been infamously struggling with the weight of data traffic on its network – in particular because of the popularity of devices like the iPhone, which it still carries exclusively in the U.S. – and has been working hard on improving both coverage and capacity. The company is currently upgrading its 3G network and plans to start launching 4G data next year. But spectrum is still in short supply among carriers.

AT&T said it does not comment on speculation. We have reached out to Qualcomm for comment and will update the story as we learn more. “We are in discussions with a variety of interested parties and are continuing to evaluate other options,” said Bill Davidson, Qualcomm’s senior vice president of investor relations, in a prepared statement sent to us by Qualcomm.

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