AT&T to buy NextWave

US operator AT&T has announced that it is to acquire NextWave Wireless, which holds spectrum licences in the US AWS and WCS bands. AT&T will pay $650m NextWave, $600m of which covers NextWave’s debt.

US WCS spectrum, originally auctioned in 1997, has never been used for wireless broadband for fear of interference with satellite services in adjacent bands. But AT&T, together with Sirius XM, filed a joint proposal with US regulator the FCC in June, which outlined a plan that would allow for both sets of services to run without interference.

That plan is still under review by the FCC but AT&T said that, if it were approved, it would be able to begin deployment of LTE in the WCS spectrum in three years’ time.

AT&T’s bid to boost its spectrum holdings was dealt a blow when the firm’s planned $39bn acquisition of competitor T-Mobile collapsed in December last year. That deal was blocked by the FCC and the Department of Justice, over concerns that it would restrict competition in the US mobile market, and left AT&T with nothing to show for the $4bn breakup fee it was obliged to pay T-Mobile.

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