NextWave Gets Three-Week Reprieve

In the latest chapter of an ongoing spectrum saga, NextWave Telecom Inc. on Monday said that the bankruptcy court overseeing the companys reorganization has granted a three-week delay of its bankruptcy hearing. The hearing originally was scheduled for Monday.

The delay is another sign that the company is still in bargaining talks with the Federal Communications Commission and several wireless carriers over much-coveted PCS radio spectrum.

Carriers are still trying to get the spectrum they won in a January auction and then lost when a federal appeals court ruled that the spectrum belonged to NextWave, the original licensee. The FCC had repossessed NextWaves spectrum when the company was unable to pay its bills and filed for bankruptcy. The FCC then resold the spectrum to other, larger carriers, but those carriers had to give up the licenses when NextWave won its appeal.

The FCC continues to appeal the courts decision, and rumors are circulating that NextWave plans to sell the spectrum back to the FCC in a multibillion-dollar deal. When NextWave won its appeal, company officials insisted that they planned to hold onto the spectrum and launch a new wireless network, but now officials have confirmed that the company is still in talks with other wireless carriers and the FCC.

"Several weeks ago, NextWave was invited to participate in discussions with other wireless carriers and the FCC to explore ways to achieve a consensual resolution of litigation concerning the companys PCS licenses," Allen Salmasi, chairman and CEO of NextWave, in Hawthorne, N.Y., said in a statement. "Although the issues are complex, and the outcome uncertain, we have a fiduciary responsibility to explore opportunities that could lead to a successful resolution of these issues."