October 16, 2001, 9:55 AM — A five-year dispute over 3G (third-generation) mobile telecommunication spectrum has ended with a group of mobile carriers agreeing to pay US$16 billion to take over spectrum originally acquired by NextWave Telecom Inc., the Washington Post reported Tuesday morning.
The companies taking the spectrum are the winners of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) auction held earlier this year, the Post said -- Verizon Wireless Inc., Cingular Wireless Inc., AT&T Wireless Services Inc. and VoiceStream Wireless Corp.
Investors in NextWave will receive $5 billion and the federal government $11 billion, the Post reported. NextWave, which has been in bankruptcy proceedings since 1998, bid $4.8 billion for the spectrum but only ever paid $500 million, the Post said, quoting industry sources.
The agreement will end a dispute in which NextWave, the other carriers, and the FCC were arguing over whether the FCC had the right to re-auction the spectrum because NextWave's bankruptcy caused it to default on payments for the license.