Verizon Wireless to Auction Spectrum


As it awaits Federal Communications Commission approval for its nearly $4 billion acquisition of wireless licenses from a quartet of cable operators, Verizon Wireless said it is readying an auction for a separate spectrum block to rationalize its holdings.
Verizon Wireless said it plans to conduct an open sales auction for all of its 700 Megahertz A and B spectrum licenses, covering dozens of major cities across the country. Verizon acquired the licenses for about $4.4 billion in 2008.
The auction is contingent on the closing of Verizon's pending $3.6 billion deal to acquire AWS spectrum held by cable consortium SpectrumCo, including cable operators Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks. In addition, in December Verizon agreed to buy additional AWS spectrum owned by Cox Communications in a deal valued at $315 million. Those deals are in various stages of review by the FCC and the Dept. of Justice and if approved are expected to close by mid-summer.
Verizon Wireless said it will begin the process of soliciting interest from potential buyers to ensure the process can move forward quickly once the AWS license transfers have been completed.
"Since wireless operators, large and small, have expressed concern about the availability of high-quality spectrum, we believe our 700 MHz licenses will be attractive to a wide range of buyers," said Molly Feldman, vice president of Business Development for Verizon Wireless in a statement. "Moreover, provided our acquisition of AWS spectrum is approved, our open sale process will ensure these A and B spectrum licenses are quickly and fairly made available for the benefit of other carriers and their customers."
Stephens Inc., a nationally recognized, independent financial services firm based in Little Rock, Ark., has been engaged to manage the offering process.