Verizon is considering hijacking a $1.6 billion AT&T deal to acquire spectrum licence holder Straight Path Communications, Reuters reported.

AT&T announced its deal for the company, which holds licences for spectrum approved by the FCC for 5G, in early April. Its offer included a $1.25 billion payment to shareholders and would see AT&T take on the company’s liabilities and pay fees due to the FCC.

In a regulatory filing later in the week, Straight Path Communications revealed a third party had been in talks about its own acquisition attempt prior to the AT&T bid, and it was still mulling a move said to be “more favourable” to shareholders.

Although the identity of the other company was omitted from the official document, US media reported the other party is Verizon.

In demand
Straight Path Communications leases out spectrum licences to a range of mobile operators and ISPs, and also holds a portfolio of patents for related technologies.

Among its assets are licences for millimetreWave (mmWave) spectrum in the 28GHz and 39GHz bands, both of which have been approved by the FCC for 5G use.

In its acquisition statement, AT&T said the deal meant it would acquire 735 licenses in the 39GHz band and 133 in the 28GHz band – a portfolio covering all of the US.

According to Bloomberg, Straight Path Communications is the third largest holder of spectrum licences for bands approved by the FCC for 5G, but is under pressure to sell assets following a $15 million fine from the US regulator.

The bids to acquire the company and its resources come as AT&T and Verizon step-up their preparations for 5G with extensive trials of technologies expected to be part of the new standard.