AT&T has just acquired NextWave Wireless for the purpose of reworking its WCS spectrum for the build-out of AT&T’s 4G LTE network. According to the release, “AT&T will acquire all the equity of NextWave for approximately $25 million plus a contingent payment of up to approximately $25 million and, through a separate agreement with NextWave’s debt holders, all of the company’s outstanding debt will be acquired by AT&T or retired by NextWave, for a total of $600 million in cash.”
NextWave currently holds licenses in WCS and AWS bands, and for a long while, WCS could not be used for mobile Internet. Sanctioned in 1997, rules were put in place to prevent this so that there would be no interference to satellite radio users in close spectrum bands.
But in June of this year, AT&T and Sirius XM filed a proposal with the FCC to protect the spectrum being used by satellite radio listeners from any interference. The proposal is still under review, but if it passes, it will offer up extra spectrum capacity for AT&T to continue its network evolution.
But it’ll be a while. According to the release, AT&T won’t be able to begin initial deployment of WCS spectrum for its 4G LTE network for another three years.
The deal hasn’t officially closed, and like the WCS proposal, is still under review by the FCC. AT&T anticipates the acquisition will close before year’s end.