AT&T Running Low on Airwaves in Some Places, CEO Says

AT&T Inc., the largest U.S. phone company, will find demand for its mobile services outstripping its supply of airwaves in some markets by next year, Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson said.

“Our problem is not a long-haul problem -- our problem is a today problem,” Stephenson said during a panel discussion in Washington. He declined to identify which markets are short of spectrum.

Stephenson has said a regulatory logjam is hampering growth in wireless service and forcing companies to raise prices as demand from the Apple iPhone and other smartphones have put pressure on network capacity.

Companies holding unused or little-used airwaves should sell them to providers that will offer wireless service, and the U.S. Federal Communications Commission should quickly approve such sales, he said today.

The FCC has accelerated its approvals of airwaves deals recently, Stephenson said.

“They’ve done an admirable job over the last couple of months,” he said.

Stephenson said Dallas-based AT&T plans to bid for frequencies that Verizon Wireless would sell upon winning regulatory approval for a $3.6 billion airwaves purchase from cable companies led by Comcast Corp.

“We could put it to work in 60 days,” Stephenson said.

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