The Supreme Court has said that it will hear the case of NextWave versus the Federal Communications Commission. It will decide whether the bankrupt telecoms carrier or the FCC owns the rights to wireless licenses.
The FCC sold NextWave the licenses in the late 1990s, but the company went bankrupt without paying for them. As a result, the FCC repossessed the licenses and held another auction in early 2001. Mobile operators including Verizon Wireless and AT&T Wireless bid a total of $15.85 billion.
However, a court of appeals then ruled that the FCC did not have the right to repossess the licenses, voiding the auction. Attempts at settlement between the FCC and NextWave have since failed.
The Supreme Court’s decision is expected in early 2003. This long timescale may encourage the parties to settle, rather than suffering uncertainty for longer than needed.