AT&T says this morning that it has agreed to offer $1.25 billion in stock to buy Straight Path Communications, a company that’s rich in the kinds of airwave spectrum rights needed to help offer speedy 5G wireless broadband communications.
The licenses cover the entire United States, including all of the top 40 markets. Straight Path has a nationwide portfolio of what’s known as millimeter wave spectrum, including 39 GHz and 28 GHz licenses.
The media world is watching telco efforts to roll out 5G since it could make providers more competitive with cable in offering video streaming.
In February AT&T and Nokia showed in a test that they could offer DirecTV Now via a fixed wireless 5G connection using 39 GHZ mmWave technology.
AT&T has agreed to pay stock equal to $95.63 for each Straight Path share. That’s a 162% premium over the company’s closing price Friday of $36.48. Over the last 12 months it peaked at $51.50.
Straight Path shares are up 152% in pre-market trading. AT&T is down less than 1%.
The bet on spectrum also helped to lift shares in Dish Network by about 4% premarket today. It’s been amassing air rights, and is seen as a potential partner for others interested in competing in 5G and other wireless communications.
With debt included, the value of the deal comes to $1.6 billion.
AT&T says that the deal would complement one it made in January for FiberTower.
The FCC will have to review AT&T’s deal, but the companies expect it to close in about a year. Justice Department antitrust officials are also looking at AT&T’ pending $85 billion deal to buy Time Warner.