U.S. telco pays 160% premium for hundreds of 39-GHz, 28-GHz frequency licences.

AT&T on Monday acquired a nationwide portfolio of 5G spectrum by agreeing to buy Straight Path in a deal worth $1.6 billion (€1.51 billion).

Virginia-based Straight Path holds 735 licences for millimetre wave (mmWave) spectrum in the 39 GHz band, and 133 licences in the 28 GHz band. These licences cover the entire U.S., including the top 40 markets.

MmWave frequencies are expected to play an important role in providing the mobile capacity required to support bandwidth-hungry 5G services.

AT&T has already conducted a 5G trial using the 39 GHz band. In February, the telco, in partnership with Nokia, used the frequencies to deliver its mobile video streaming service, DirecTV Now, over a fixed wireless 5G connection.

"The [Straight Path] acquisition will support AT&T’s leadership in 5G, which will accelerate the delivery of new experiences for consumers and businesses like virtual and augmented reality, telemedicine, autonomous cars, smart cities and more," said AT&T, in a statement.

The Straight Path buy builds on AT&T’s recent acquisition of FiberTower, which holds spectrum in the 24 GHz and 39 GHz bands in 44 states plus the whole of Puerto Rico.

The Straight Path deal is worth $1.6 billion including liabilities and outstanding fees payable by Straight Path to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Straight Path shareholders will receive $1.25 billion, or $95.63 per share, which represents a 162% premium on the share price on the last trading day before the deal was announced.

The transaction is subject to FCC approval; AT&T expects to complete the deal within 12 months.