Is AT&T’s Bid to Buy 700 MHz in Jeopardy?

neat wireless.JPGThe Associated Press reported today that AT&T is willing to pay $2.5 billion for Aloha Partners share of the 700 megahertz spectrum. The deal would give AT&T access to 196 million people in 281 markets around the United States. The company could use the old analogue television spectrum to expand wireless phone and data services or to add video content for mobile phones. But there may be a problem lurking in one of the legal complaints filed against AT&T that could disrupt the company’s desire to expand its customer base and services.

MobileCrunch reported yesterday that NEAT WIRELESS File(d) (an) Antitrust Complaint against AT&T Mobility. The complaint alleges that AT&T engaged in unfair business practices that forced NEAT WIRELESS to sell to AT&T its recently acquired subscriptions to the telecommunications giant at distressed prices. NEAT WIRELESS is asking Congress, the FCC and the Department of Justice to keep AT&T from acquiring any further mobile telecommunications properties until the antitrust Complaint is investigated by the Federal Government. If the government does this, AT&T’s hopes of expansion will be put in jeopardy. The 700MHz auction is set for January of 2008, and all the big players will be bidding for this lucrative spectrum.

It is too early to tell what the government will do about NEAT WIRELESS’ Complaint, and whether temporally keeping AT&T from acquiring new properties is the proper remedy to take while AT&T is investigated. There may not be enough relation between NEAT WIRELESS’ regional Complaint and AT&T’s national desire to buy a piece of the 700MHz spectrum to warrant such draconian measures. But as I look to my legal Tarot Cards, invoking the Egyptian god Thoth, I see a large settlement being offered to NEAT WIRELESS just to go away.

AT&T Mobility