Verizon quietly strengthened its spectrum position a little further late Friday by finalizing a transaction with U.S. Cellular.
Verizon bought from U.S. Cellular a 25 MHz A Block license in Missouri and also took custody of the affected customers and CDMA network operations. The spectrum and operational assets acquired cover approximately 110,000 people over about 1,700 square miles. Verizon did not disclose the financial details of the transaction.
Verizon will keep serving those customers under the U.S. Cellular brand until the network integration and LTE upgrade in finished in mid-2014. U.S. Cellular customers in the area affected by the transaction should expect a letter from Verizon soon.
While U.S. Cellular is busy clearing out some of its AWS-1 spectrum, the big regional carrier is eyeing the FCC’s upcoming auction for AWS-3 airwaves. Last week, TDS CEO LeRoy Carlson said interoperability and smaller license area sizes are two big contingencies U.S. Cellular is measuring to gauge its interest in that auction as well as the 600 MHz broadcast incentive auctions scheduled for 2015.
Verizon in the meanwhile, having completed its initial LTE rollout, has begun deploying LTE on its AWS holdings in order to boost capacity. Speaking last month at a Wells Fargo conference, Verizon CFO Fran Shammo said that all of the carrier’s CapEx is being concentrated around “densification” of its LTE network.