AT&T announced today that it’s acquiring Straight Path Communications for $1.6 billion as part of the company’s efforts to continue building out its 5G spectrum holdings.
As noted in AT&T’s press release, Straight Path — which is a company that basically existed for the sake of owning spectrum — comes with 735 mmWave licenses in the 39 GHz band and 133 licenses in the 28 GHz band, both of which fall right into the high-frequency bandwidth area that 5G technology will be focusing on. According to AT&T, its newly acquired Straight Path spectrum covers the entire United States, which could be beneficial for future 5G rollouts.
Straight Path isn’t AT&T’s first 5G pick up — the company bought FiberTower back in February for more a geographically limited swath of bandwidth in the 24 GHz and 39 GHz bands.
The other carriers aren’t sitting quietly when it comes to 5G testing, either. Verizon recently finalized its own acquisition of XO Communications, which includes spectrum in the 28 GHz and 39 GHz bands for 5G testing. Dish Network traded some of its assets to EchoStar for spectrum in the 28 GHz band. And the FCC has announced plans to offer licensed use in the 28 GHz, 37 GHz, and 39 GHz bands, unlicensed use in the 64-71 GHz band, and shared access in the 37-37.6 GHz band for companies to begin exploring 5G options as well.
AT&T’s acquisition is still subject to regulatory approval, and things in general are still in early days when it comes to 5G — which still doesn’t have a finalized specification from standards organizations like the International Telecommunication Union (the ITU) and the 3GPP. But if these early spectrum investments are anything to go by, carriers are gearing up for the next big telecommunications battle.