For sale: Spectrum for backhaul
IDT Spectrum doesn’t expect to get back what it spent on its spectrum and the business it pursued as a result, but it does hope to get a decent return for its shareholders.
That’s the word from Michael Rapaport, president of IDT Spectrum, which on Tuesday announced it is selling off its portfolio of spectrum, which includes 931 licenses at 38 GHz and 16 licenses in the 28-31 GHz LMDS range. For wireless operators or others interested in solving the backhaul dilemma, the spectrum could be a useful asset.
Rapaport isn’t naming names but says the company started getting inquiries from larger carriers and decided to put the spectrum out on the market and let everyone have a chance at it. “We have known for a long time that there’s a tremendous need for our spectrum,” he says. “It’s a function of maximizing shareholder value.”
The licenses fetched $220 million in the original Federal Communications Commission auction, but IDT paid a fraction of that price when it bought the licenses through Winstar’s bankruptcy. IDT Spectrum’s original plan was to build a backhaul network, and it spent in the neighborhood of $300 million pursuing that idea before shifting to a leasing model. “We were five or six years too early for the marketplace,” Rapaport says.
Now IDT wants to sell the spectrum as a single, nationwide bundle as opposed to a market-by-market approach. The markets where it holds spectrum include cities like New York, San Francisco and Chicago.
Besides Tier 1 or other wireless carriers, cable companies might be interested in acquiring the spectrum, as well as tower companies that want to compete with FiberTower, which owns similar spectrum. However, Rapaport says IDT’s holdings run deeper and larger. FiberTower, previously known as First Avenue Networks, bought spectrum licenses from former Winstar rival Teligent back in 2004.