Thursday, August 2, 2012

AT&T to Acquire NextWave Wireless for its Spectrum

AT&T has agreed to acquire NextWave Wireless, which holds licenses in the Wireless Communication Services (WCS) and Advanced Wireless Service (AWS) bands, for approximately $25 million plus the assumption of about $600 million in debt.

According to its 2011 annual report, Nextwave Wireless' total domestic spectrum holdings covers approximately 218.6 million total POPs, with 104.8 million POPs covered by 20 MHz or more of spectrum, and an additional 94.9 million POPs covered by at least 10 MHz of spectrum. In addition, a number of markets, including much of the New York City metropolitan region, are covered by 30 MHz or more of spectrum. Its domestic spectrum resides in the 2.3 GHz Wireless Communication Services (WCS), 2.5 GHz Broadband Radio Service (BRS)/Educational Broadband Service (EBS), and 1.7/2.1 GHz Advanced Wireless Service (AWS). Its international spectrum includes 2.3 GHz licenses in Canada with 15 million POPs covered by 30 MHz of spectrum.

In terms of spectral size, NextWave's AWS spectrum is divided into six spectrum blocks, A through F. There are three 10 MHz blocks, each consisting of paired 5 MHz channels, and three 20 MHz blocks, each consisting of paired 10 MHz channels. Nextwave hold both 20 MHz and 10 MHz licenses.

WCS spectrum was first auctioned in 1997, but has not been utilized for mobile Internet usage due to technical rules designed to avoid possible interference to satellite radio users in adjacent spectrum bands.

In June, AT&T and Sirius XM filed a joint proposal with the FCC that would protect the adjacent satellite radio spectrum from interference and enable WCS spectrum — for the first time — to be used for mobile Internet service. This proposed solution on WCS spectrum, which is still under review by the FCC, effectively creates much-needed new spectrum capacity. 02-Aug-12

  • The old NextWave Wireless was formed in 1996 as a wholly owned operating subsidiary of NextWave Telecom Inc., which sought to develop a nationwide CDMA-based PCS network. In 1998, NTI and its subsidiaries, including Old NextWave Wireless, filed for Chapter 11, and the case took seven years to resolve. Substantially all of the assets related to the PCS build-out, except PCS licenses, were abandoned when NTI was sold to finance the plan of reorganization of the NextWave Telecom group.