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4G/3G/WiFi

AT&T to Buy NextWave for 'Alternative' 4G

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) wants to buy NextWave Wireless Inc. (Nasdaq: WAVE) for up to US$50 million after coming up with a compromise with Sirius Satellite Radio (Nasdaq: SIRI) in June that, it says, would let it use NextWave's Wireless Communication Services (WCS) spectrum without interfering with satellite communications.

AT&T's set to acquire all the equity of NextWave for approximately $25 million, plus a contingent payment of up to $25 million. The operator has come to a separate deal with NextWave's debtholders so all of the company's outstanding debt would be satisfied for a total of $600 million in cash and a transfer of NextWave assets.

AT&T says that a majority of NextWave's shareholders have agreed to support the buyout. The deal is subject to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) review and possible examination from the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice . AT&T hopes to seal the deal by the end of the year.

The FCC still has to approve the deployment of 4G services in the 2.3GHz WCS band. The concern is that strong 4G radios would interfere with satellite communications in the adjacent band. [Ed note: Hmmm, where have we heard that before?]

AT&T is proposing to the FCC that it reduces the power of WCS equipment on the ground and uses the C- and D-bands of the spectrum as guard bands to fence it off from satellite communications. There's no word on approval from the FCC yet.

Why this matters
If the deal closes and the FCC approves 4G service in the WCS bands, AT&T has a new raft of nationwide licenses it could use for LTE services. AT&T says it could start deploying on the band in about three years. After the LightSquared debacle, however, the FCC is likely to eye the proposed satellite interference fix carefully.

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— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

joset01 12/5/2012 | 5:24:57 PM
re: AT&T to Buy NextWave for 'Alternative' 4G

As DSLReports notes, WCS spectrum is often better deployed in fixed environments. So AT&T could try for a Verizon Fusion-esque service with this bandwidth. They did actually try WCS fixed services years ago as BellSouth but the technology has improved.

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