AT&T is paying out $1.9 billion in cash, and some radio license rights, to arch-rival Verizon to acquire some of the 700 MHz B radio band that Verizon previously owned. The radio frequencies could let AT&T serve up 4G LTE to 42 million people in 18 states. The deal is subject to approval, but AT&T anticipates closing it in the second half of this year–in order to meet its 2012 promise of covering 300 million U.S. customers with 4G services by the end of 2014.
Earlier this week AT&T bought small operator Alltel for $780 million to expand its coverage in rural areas. That means AT&T’s spent nearly $2.7 billion at the start of this year to expand its coverage. On the other side of the ocean, the U.K.’s main 4G spectrum auction got underway this week.
The moves are carefully timed, and in response to statistics like IDC’s that show how quickly smartphone adoption is progressing.