Verizon Hosting Surprise LTE Fire Sale

Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) said Wednesday it plans to¬†host a fire sale on LTE spectrum, revealing that if it gets permission to buy cable operators’ 4G airwaves, it will discard extra 700MHz licenses it received at auction in 2008.

The company plans to sell its regional and metro-area 700MHz licenses after it picks up Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA), Time Warner Cable (NYSE:TWC), Bright House Networks, and Cox Communications’ advanced wireless services licenses in the 1700 MHz/2100 MHz band.

The deals would make Verizon’s LTE inauguration easier, allowing the company to focus on 4G efforts on two frequency blocks nationwide.

Though it is almost certain the cable spectrum sale will go through, the Justice Department may not approve the joint marketing agreement Verizon has worked out with the cable operators.

If it does go through, AT&T (NYSE:T) will likely jump at the chance to pick up the 10 MHz and 20 MHz bands in New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, and other urban areas to expand its 4G capability in those cities.

Regional carriers are expected to bid on these, as well, including U.S. Cellular, Leap Wireless (NASDAQ:LEAP), and MetroPCS (NYSE:PCS).

Jefferies analyst Thomas Seitz estimates Verizon could sell the airwaves for as much as $5 billion.