Less than a month after we got news that AT&T would be buying Straight Path Communications in an effort to expand its spectrum holdings to prepare for 5G, Verizon has swooped in and taken over, snagging the millimeter wave spectrum holder for more than $3 billion.
Verizon’s (News - Alert) acquisition of Straight Path will involve an all-stock deal valued at $3 billion, or $184 a share. It will also involve Verizon paying AT&T (News - Alert) a $38 million termination fee.
Straight Path Communications is interesting to these two tier 1 cellular service providers because it has 735 millimeter wave licenses in the 39 gigaHertz band and 133 licenses in the 28 gigaHertz band. These licenses cover the U.S., including all of the nation’s top 40 markets.
An April 28 Verizon blog expressed the importance of millimeter wave spectrum to 5G, which is what’s next in cellular networking. “The next big technological innovations are coming in 5G to serve the future needs of business, education, government, and consumers,” Nicola Palmer wrote for the Verizon blog. “Enhanced fixed and mobile broadband, low-latency services, and massive IoT scale will thrive on mid-band and millimeter wave spectrum, which is where we are focused for growth.”
The blog was Verizon’s effort to explain why it didn’t buy 600MHz spectrum during the recent spectrum auction, in which T-Mobile captured 45 percent of all the low-band spectrum sold. Verizon’s Palmer said Verizon wasn’t interested in that, but rather is more interested in mid-band and millimeter wave spectrum, and already has “strong spectrum holdings in the 700, 850, 1900MHz/PCS, AWS 1 and 3 spectrum bands.”
5G is a new kind of cellular that will be noteworthy due to its parity with wireline speeds and its ability to address the Internet of Things with such capabilities as ultra reliable low latency communications.