Verizon Wireless spectrumVerizon Wireless has sold another of its 700 MHz B-block licenses –and again the spectrum went to a small wireless network operator – in this case Panhandle Telecommunications Systems of Guymon, Okla., a CLEC subsidiary of ILEC Panhandle Telephone Cooperative Inc. (PTCI). The license covers 12 counties in northwest Texas.

A Panhandle spokesman told Telecompetitor the company plans to use the spectrum to provide fixed wireless broadband service. He noted that the company’s ILEC business already has B-block spectrum that it uses for fixed wireless broadband.

On the ILEC side, the spokesman said, the fixed wireless offering is used to serve customers in very rural areas that cannot be served by DSL. “That’s what we’re going to do in the CLEC as well,” he said.

The Panhandle announcement comes less than a week after Verizon announced its first sale of part of the 700 MHz spectrum the carrier agreed to auction off upon receiving approval to purchase AWS spectrum from several of the nation’s largest cable companies.  The spectrum deal announced last week was with Nortex, another small wireless operator.

Some industry observers have been expecting to see AT&T purchase some of the licenses that Verizon Wireless agreed to auction off – and that may yet happen. Both of the licenses sold to date are in rural areas. But some of Verizon’s A-block and B-block licenses are in larger markets, which undoubtedly would be more attractive to AT&T.

Verizon Wireless said it would sell B-block licenses in markets as large as Los Angeles, Chicago, Miami, Cincinnati, Rochester, Memphis, Oklahoma City, Greensboro-Winston Salem, Charlotte, Youngstown, Raleigh-Durham, and West Palm Beach. Among the markets where Verizon agreed to sell A-block licenses are New York, Philadelphia, Washington-Baltimore, Orlando, Miami, Tampa, Atlanta, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Detroit, Grand Rapids, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Minneapolis, Oklahoma City, Dallas, Austin, Houston, San Antonio (CMA area only), Denver, Los Angeles, Fresno, San Francisco and Sacramento.

The main drawback to the A- and B-block spectrum is that it is in a separate band from those in which the nation’s largest wireless carriers have deployed service and much of it is held by smaller carriers who have had difficulty persuading manufacturers to build handsets in the relatively small quantities those carriers require. Most companies that have built out B-block spectrum, such as PTCI, are using it only for fixed service. A large carrier such as AT&T building out A- and B-block spectrum potentially could change that situation.

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