Cingular Wireless, the second-largest U.S. mobile telephone operator, agreed to buy airwave licenses from NextWave Telecom Inc. for $1.4 billion, half of which would be paid directly to the government.
The licenses cover 83 million potential customers in 34 markets, the companies said.
The NextWave spectrum licenses will allow Cingular to expand and improve its network in areas where call quality is poor or it has to pay rivals to carry calls. The payment would be NextWave's first income from licenses the company won in government auctions in 1996. Other wireless carriers may still submit bids.