Nextwave Settlement Requires Divestiture Of Spectrum

The Nextwave spectrum saga took a sharp turn today with the announcement of an agreement with the FCC that Nextwave would sell some 90% of its spectrum holdings in order to finally pay for that same spectrum. I could try to synopsize the saga again here, but the linked RCR Wireless News does a fantastic job of recapping the long, sordid tale. It seems that instead of constantly squabbling over the spectrum, where the FCC tries to take it back because it hasn’t been paid for or used, and Nextwave seeks the protection of bankruptcy court, Nextwave has agreed to sell up to 90% of the spectrum, sharing the revenues with the FCC, and getting the spectrum into productive use. All in all, this is a compromise for Nextwave, good for the FCC, and good the public. My concern is that Nextwave was positioned to try something innovative if only they could fund it, and I worry that the new spectrum buyers will be less innovative. (In October 2001, I wrote a piece critical of Nextwave for not offering services yet tying up public spectrum.)

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