NextWave selling big swathes of spectrum


Just in time. Last week NextWave announced it enlisted the help of Deutsche Bank and UBS to assist in the sale of its vast U.S. spectrum holdings, which include licenses and lease rights for a total of 4.7 billion MHz/pops of spectrum comprised of 154 AWS licenses in the 1.7/2.1 GHz band, 30 WCS licenses in the 2.3 GHz band, and 39 EBS and BRS licenses and spectrum leases in the 2.5 GHz band.

With the last of the so-called beach front spectrum--the 700 MHz airwaves--being auctioned and swallowed up primarily by AT&T Wireless and Verizon Wireless, NextWave has received multiple offers for its spectrum assets, NextWave President and CEO Allen Salmasi said.

For sure, NextWave will be able to get top dollar for the spectrum now that the FCC doesn't plan to release anymore spectrum, and there are still a number of companies chomping on the bit to get their hands on spectrum. NextWave's state mission in the past was to make spectrum available to companies that wanted to enter the mobile broadband space and use its products and technologies, including WiMAX and TD-CDMA. Today, NextWave says it no longer needs this spectrum in order to reach its product sales objectives.

NextWave's sale could give WiMAX the bigger U.S. foothold that the technology's proponents were hoping for with the 700 MHz auction. LTE, not WiMAX, emerged as the big technology winner in the 700 MHz band as AT&T and Verizon announced their intentions to deploy the 4G technology in the major swathes of spectrum they won.

While not announced by the WiMAX Forum, sources close to the forum say an FDD profile for the AWS band in the U.S. is imminent as is one for the 2496-2690 MHz band, which is reserved for broadband services in the U.S and in many European countries such as the UK. SpectrumCo, the joint venture formed by Sprint (which withdrew from the consortium in August) and cable heavyweights Comcast, Cox, Time Warner and others, purchased $2.37 billion worth of spectrum in the AWS band last year and has yet to announce its plans for the spectrum. But sources say WiMAX equipment is now being tested for this band. Moreover, speculation is that Comcast might be mulling an entrance into the wireless broadband market as a network operator.--Lynnette

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