AT&T is beefing up its spectrum holdings, buying out spectrum from a holding company called Aloha Partners 2. The deal encompasses 49 advanced-wireless services spectrum licenses, covering 50 million people in 14 states. The exact terms of the deal are still unclear, including how much AT&T is paying for the spectrum, but the larger purpose is adding spectrum to what's already the second-largest wireless network in the nation.
Aloha had originally acquired the licenses intending to build a larger broadband wireless network, but as the demand for wireless access grew, the company was left without enough spectrum for a standalone network. (By comparison, they control less than a quarter as much spectrum as US Cellular, the next largest holder.) Still, the spectrum itself is fairly valuable, covering markets in San Francisco, Sacramento, Denver, and Pittsburgh. Selling to a larger firm like AT&T is a natural choice, allowing the company to pair the spectrum with existing coverage in those markets. The deal is still tentative, pending regulatory approval, but AT&T expects it to close in the second quarter of 2014.