Florida school leases spectrum to Clearwire

Florida Atlantic University (FAU) officials have FCC approval to lease 24 of 26 unused broadband channels in its EBS spectrum to Clearwire for up to $173 million for the next 10 years. FAU has held the spectrum licenses since the 1980s. Originally the channels were used for distance learning but the Internet put the kibosh on that and made the airwaves more valuable to broadband wireless ISPs such as Clearwire.

The lease plan will include an upfront payment of at least $8.6 million plus $3.5 million a year for the next five years. If FAU is allowed to lease its other two channels, it would get about $4.3 million in services and equipment.

The school needs the money because of lower than projected property tax revenues so it put out bids last year and got three proposals. Clearwire, of course, needs the spectrum as part of its pending nationwide launch of mobile WiMAX.

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