Fiercewireless reports today that AT&T is acquiring Straight Path in a move to secure more spectrum in the millimeter frequency band. The article suggests this is an all stock deal where Straight Path shareholders will receive $1.25 billion ($95.63 per share) to be paid in AT&T stock.
Hard not to be cynical about this one. Staight Path had been fined $100 million by the FCC over their failure to deploy wireless services after acquiring spectrum in the 39 Ghz band. The FCC claimed that Straight Path obtained renewal of its 39 GHz band licenses by submitting filings incorrectly claiming it had constructed networks around these licenses; unfortunately, no such networks ever seemed to have been built. The $100 million fine is broken down into a $15 million upfront fee and $85 million with the stipulation that Straight Path sells or surrenders the licenses to the FCC within a year. It’s not clear how much of all these penalties will eventually be paid by Straight Path.
But the end result is that AT&T, after securing the FirstNet contract this month, is moving aggresively to acquire more potential 5G spectrum in the millimeter space. FirstNet will give it 20 MHz of 700 MHz low-band spectrum to build the nation’s first wireless network for first responders but can use the spectrum for commercial purposes also.
And so it goes. Spectrum is the new currency.