Approval for the $1.9 billion deal might seem like a consolation prize given to AT&T after the latter had to pull out of its bid to buy T-Mobile. When AT&T withdrew its application to make the purchase from the FCC, the commission hinted at an approval for the deal with Qualcomm. And though many of AT&T's rivals and public advocacy groups were delighted with AT&T's decision not to pursue the nation's fourth largest carrier, the same organizations and competitors are not pleased with the FCC's approval of the Qualcomm deal. AT&T is not being forced to have the 700MHz spectrum it purchased work with that from Verizon or other carriers.
Having phones from rival carriers operate over the spectrum could still happen, but under the terms of the deal, AT&T would not be required to offer support and subscribers might be forced to purchase new equipment if they decide to switch carriers. The lack of compatibility might be a moot point because the FCC is planning on taking a look early next year, at requesting that LTE networks be compatible.