updated 10:53 am EDT, Thu August 2, 2012
AT&T makes $600m total bid to buy NextWave Wireless for WCS spectrum
AT&T revealed it is pursuing buying NextWave Wireless, which holds Wireless Communication Services (WCS) and Advanced Wireless Service (AWS) spectrum. The purchase may prove especially lucrative for AT&T if the FCC approves a June submission to begin using WCS airwaves for mobile data. AT&T said the approval would allow it to begin rolling out WCS-enabled 4G LTE networks in about three years.
The required approval is still likely some time away, however, as the FCC expressed earlier concerns that WCS spectrum for wireless broadband may interfere with satellite radio broadcasts in nearby bands.
AT&T will pay about $600 million for taking over NextWave, broken down into $25 million for its equity, a contingent payment of nearly $25 million, and the rest going to settle or retire any outstanding NextWave debt. The debt will be settled either with cash or NextWave asset transfers, with AT&T claiming that most shareholders agree with this arrangement.
AT&T wants NextWave's spectrum in order to offer an alternative method of bumping wireless network capacity for an increasingly data-hungry customer base.
Other than the FCC approval, the Department of Justice and the FTC may want to look into the deal as well. The carrier is hopeful the deal will be completed by year's end, however.