A couple carriers are making headlines today for different reasons. Sprint, which could soon be scooped up by Softbank, announced today (via Engadget) it is spending $480 million to acquire PCS spectrum and 585,000 customers from U.S. cellular across the Midwest. As always, the deal is subject to approval from government officials in the U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Communications Commission, but Sprint could take over the spectrum and customers in “parts of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri and Ohio including the Chicago and St. Louis markets” by sometime next year:
Under the terms of the agreement, Sprint will acquire 20 MHz of PCS spectrum in the 1900 MHz band in various Midwest markets including Chicago, South Bend, Ind. and Champaign, Ill. and 10 MHz of PCS spectrum in the St. Louis market.
AT&T is also making the news today with the FCC announcing the carrier will pay a $700,000 fine to put an end to the agency’s investigation into how the carrier handled its transition to mandatory monthly data plans (via BGR). The investigation followed complaints from consumers that AT&T had switched them from grandfathered pay-as-you-go plans to its new monthly plans as far back as 2009. According to the FCC, as part of the settlement, AT&T “has agreed to refund excess charges paid by individual customers, which could be as much as $25 to $30 a month, depending on data use”:
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Under the terms of today’s Consent Decree with AT&T, the company has agreed to make a voluntary payment in the amount of $700,000 to the U.S. Department of Treasury and refunds to individual customers. AT&T has also agreed to an extensive compliance plan, which includes: consumer notification, training of customer care representatives, and periodic compliance reports to the FCC. AT&T must also conduct additional searches of its records to identify improperly switched consumers and ensure appropriate refunds.
There is also a bit more positive news for the carrier today: AT&T issued a press release confirming plans to roll out its 4G LTE network to cover 300 million people by the end of 2014 (250 million by the end of 2013). As part of its plans, it will spend $14 billion to expand the network over the next three years. It also plans to expand U-verse to 8.5 million additional customers by the end of 2015.
AT&T* today announced plans to invest $14 billion over the next three years to significantly expand and enhance its wireless and wireline IP broadband networks to support growing customer demand for high-speed Internet access and new mobile, app and cloud services. The investment plan – Project Velocity IP (VIP) – expands AT&T’s high-potential growth platforms, helping drive continued increases in revenues from existing and new products and services, and earnings per share.