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.

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More Ways To Get Mobile TV

By the look of things, you’d think U.S. consumers were demanding ways to watch TV on their mobile phones. But studies show, again and again, they’re not. But a few equipment vendors in the WiMax space are throwing the facts under a truck and rolling out end-to-end WiMax television networks for mobile handsets. These are for over-the-air broadcasts similar to the DVB-H networks of Europe and the MediaFLO networks in the United States as compared to services such as MobiTV.

Yesterday, UDCast said it was teaming up with LG Electronics and Harris Corp to deliver a WiMax-based mobile TV network. It has experience building and deploying DVB-H networks, which failed to catch on here in the United States. It joins NextWave Wireless, which has also announced its product, built into combined equipment from Alcatel-Lucent, Huawei and other partners, to deliver WiMax TV to mobiles.

Such networks would allow carriers to deliver several broadcast television channels to mobile handsets, so users can watch the latest baseball game or episode of The Office as it airs. It would compete with Verizon’s V-Cast Service, which is based on Qualcomm’s MediaFLO network, and similar offerings coming from AT&T. For WiMax-based services, potential service providers in the U.S. include Sprint for its yet-to-be-launched Xohm service, Clearwire and some rural WiMax players such as Xanadoo.

Now that WiMax has its own mobile television offering, we’ll see if anyone wants it.

LTE Patent Framework Planned

A group of equipment vendors and handset makers have teamed up to craft a licensing framework for the fourth-generation LTE mobile standard. Essentially the group wants to prevent the pain and suffering caused by Qualcomm’s control of 3G patents related to CDMA.

Nokia, Nokia Siemens Networks, NextWave Wireless, Alcatel-Lucent, Sony Ericsson, NEC and Ericsson have all decided to push for “fair and reasonable” licensing terms for the patents related to LTE in next-generation wireless networks. The framework calls for LTE patents to represent a single-digit percentage of the sales price of mobile phones and a single-digit dollar figure for laptop computers.

While the participating companies have all committed to the LTE standard, it’s worth noting that the big wireless chip vendors have yet to get on board with this effort. Obviously, the handset and base station vendors would like to see IP licensing fees set to the lowest level possible, whereas the players providing silicon would prefer to let the fees be set by market forces (rather than an industry framework). Any type of licensing would have to represent a balance between getting the most money for innovation and setting a price that the market will bear, so we’ll see if this effort gains adherents from the chip side of the business.