NextWave Puts Spectrum on the Block

The company plans to sell 223 licenses covering 84 percent of the United States.

Weeks after the Federal Communications Commission completed its $19.5 billion spectrum auction, NextWave Wireless is planning a spectrum sale of its own.

The technology company said April 23 it plans to put 223 of its licenses on the block.

The licenses come from three blocks of spectrum NextWave bought several years ago for $500 million, and include coverage of major markets, such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Philadelphia, Denver, Houston and Detroit. Combined, NextWave's spectrum footprint covers more than 250 million people and 84 percent of the country.

The spectrum is located in the 1.7GHz and 2.1GHz bands, with the Wireless Communication Service license in the 2.3GHz band, and the Education Broadband Service and Broadband Radio Service licenses in the 2.5GHz band.

NextWave President and CEO Allen Salmasi said since the completion of the FCC's 700MHz auction, NextWave has received a number of offers for its spectrum.

"[We] believe that now is the perfect time for us to sell these valuable assets while network operators are trying to finalize their band plans and spectrum holdings for their continuing 3G [third-generation] and planned 4G rollouts," Salmasi said in a statement. "We no longer view our spectrum holdings as critical to reaching our product sales objectives."

In March, NextWave announced an agreement with Alcatel-Lucent to develop advanced WiMax broadcast solutions for mobile operators. Under the agreement, Alcatel-Lucent will integrate NextWave's MXtv technology into its WiMax portfolio, based on the 802.16e-2005 (Rev-e) standard. MXtv offers WiMax operators the ability to deliver up to 45 broadcast channels in 10MHz of spectrum.

NextWave also plans to deliver high-performance LTE (Long-Term Evolution) network solutions to mobile operator customers beginning in 2009.

"Monetizing the value of our substantial spectrum assets would allow us to further strengthen our balance sheet, retire debt and continue the commercial introduction of a wide range of ... wireless broadband and multimedia solutions," Salmasi said.

Various 3G and 4G networks are already deployed globally in the spectrum bands NextWave owns. While these networks have been generally implemented in a single frequency, NextWave officials say operators may need to combine multiple frequency bands for sufficient spectrum depth to handle bandwidth-intensive 4G applications.

NextWave has retained Deutsche Bank and UBS Investment Bank to handle the spectrum sale.