NextWave Plays Flip That Spectrum

NextWave Wireless has hired Deutsche Bank and UBS Investment Bank to help it sell spectrum in three different frequency bands, ranging from 154 AWS licenses in the 1.7/2.1 GHz band to 39 licenses and spectrum leases in the 2.5 GHz band that others are using for WiMAX. After spending about $500 million since 2005 acquiring the spectrum — which now covers about 84 percent of the U.S. population (but not Miami) — NextWave has decided it wants to focus on its gear.

The company had spent the last few years assembling intellectual property and expertise for designing products, everything from chips to video services for 4G networks, especially in frequencies where NextWave had licenses. Services such as broadcast mobile TV over WiMAX are exactly the sort of thing that could add some curb appeal to the spectrum for sale.

NextWave spokesman Roy Berger said that after the recent 700MHz auction ended, the company fielded offers from several entities curious about its U.S. spectrum assets. While Berger wouldn’t talk about anticipated pricing for the spectrum, last year’s AWS sales averaged out at 53 cents per MHz per POP. The 700 MHz auction cost an average of 76 cents/MHZ/POP for the C block, which was won by Verizon, and a whopping $2.68/MHz/POP for the B block of spectrum that was won primarily by AT&T.

Berger mentioned that the spectrum might be good for a WiMAX network, but said it would also compliment 700 MHz deployments because that spectrum has more capacity. Backhaul and capacity are the keys to making sure the next generation of wireless services measures up to the hype, as many of our readers have pointed out — and Sprint has learned with its Xohm WiMAX service.

Berger expects to have prospective buyers lined up by the end of July. A successful sale would leave NextWave with spectrum assets in South America and Europe.