U.S. regulators ratified a proposal from AT&T (T:US) Inc. and Sirius XM Radio Inc. that would let the mobile phone provider offer more wireless data service while protecting satellite radio subscribers from interference.
The rules, approved today by the Federal Communications Commission on a 5-0 vote, affect airwaves known as the Wireless Communications Service band and nearby frequencies used by Sirius to reach 23.4 million subscribers.
AT&T has proposed buying Wireless Communications Service airwaves from Comcast Corp., Nextwave Wireless Inc. (WAVE:US) and Horizon Wi-Com LLC, according to an FCC notice seeking comments on the acquisitions.
Limitations intended to protect Sirius have kept mobile service providers from making intensive use of the Wireless Communications Service band, AT&T and Sirius said in a June 15 filing that offered what they called a compromise. Sirius (SIRI:US) has operated with uncertainty about whether the FCC would change the rules in ways that would permit interference with satellite signals, the companies said.
The FCC is trying to free more airwaves for use by high- speed wireless devices such as Apple Inc.’s iPhone.
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