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Verizon Wireless said Friday that it's selling space on the airwaves to AT&T Inc. in exchange for $1.9 billion and the transfer of some airwave rights from AT&T.
The sale of spectrum rights will let AT&T expand its capacity for wireless broadband in areas that include Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Oklahoma City and Cincinnati. In return, it's getting other frequencies in Los Angeles, Fresno, Calif., Phoenix and Portland, Ore.
The deals are part of a year-long spectrum reshuffling process for Verizon and AT&T. AT&T is on the hunt for more spectrum, while Verizon has been optimizing its holdings to make them easier to use with wireless service.
Public Knowledge, a Washington-based public-interest group, called on the Federal Communications Commission to stop the deal, as it's a transfer of spectrum between the two biggest cellphone carriers. Harold Feld, a senior vice president at the group, said there could be more competition in the industry if the spectrum went to smaller carriers instead.
Verizon did not have any immediate comment on Public Knowledge's criticism.
Verizon is also selling North Carolina spectrum licenses covering Charlotte, Greensboro and Raleigh to Grain Management, a private-equity firm, for $189 million.
Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications Inc. of New York and Vodafone Group PLC of Britain.