AT&T today announced
that the company has acquired Nextwave Wireless -- and the company's ample stable of Wireless Communication Service (WCS) 2.3 GHz spectrum -- in a deal worth $600 million. Those licenses could potentially cover over 210 million subscribers. AT&T is also gobbling up Nextwave's Advanced Wireless Services (AWS) licenses, which should cover about 60 million additional users.
As we recently noted
, both AT&T and Sirius XM have filed a request with the FCC that they be allowed to use WCS spectrum for wireless broadband services. AT&T has held WCS spectrum since 1997, but for years has been unable to use it due to potential interference problems with Sirius XM Radio’s satellite broadcast signals.
The recent proposal with Sirius XM solved some of the problems by creating so-called "guard bands" that would protect Sirius XM from LTE interference. Unfortunately for AT&T, Nextwave owned a lot of the C and D Block spectrum necessary to make the plan work. $600 million later and AT&T has their solution by doing what AT&T is best at: acquisition.
WCS spectrum can be somewhat finnicky, particularly with building penetration and indoor coverage. However, AT&T might be interested in some kind of fixed wireless play -- using fixed roof antennas like Verizon's Home Fusion
. Both Verizon and AT&T are shifting away from fixed broadband (particularly DSL), replacing many of those lines with more profitable (and metered) wireless services.
Apparently, AT&T is very confident the FCC is going to open up the Wireless Communication Services band for LTE use.