Verizon reportedly wins bidding war for Straight Path with $3.1 billion offer

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Verizon appears to have won its bidding war with AT&T for Straight Path Communications after offering $3.1 billion.

AT&T announced last month that it had agreed to buy Straight Path for $1.6 billion, but after Verizon placed a bid for nearly double that amount on Monday, AT&T declined to match it, reports the Wall Street Journal.

The telecoms are interested in Straight Path because the Virginia-based company holds valuable spectrum licenses that will play an important role in laying the groundwork for 5G services. Straight Path began reviewing “strategic alternatives to maximize shareholder value” (i.e. searching for a buyer) in January after it was fined $100 million by the Federal Communications Commission for failing to deploy the wireless services required by its spectrum licenses, a practice called “spectrum squatting.”

When AT&T announced its agreement to acquire Straight Path last month, it said the acquisition would help it create a 5G network capable of supporting “businesses like virtual and augmented reality, telemedicine, autonomous cars, smart cities and more.” Now it appears Verizon may be getting that advantage instead.

Both AT&T and Verizon have already made other acquisitions to prepare for 5G. In February, AT&T quietly purchased FiberTower, which also holds key spectrum rights, while Verizon agreed to pay $1.8 billion for XO Communications’ fiber-optic network business.

Verizon had also reportedly been trying to buy Charter Communications, but Charter’s deal to work on wireless infrastructure with Comcast, which was announced earlier this week, means that plan may be scuppered.

TechCrunch has contacted Verizon and Straight Path for more information.

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