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TCSS board OKs $1.9 million FCC license sale

The Troup County School System Board of Education approved Monday a purchase agreement to sell its two Federal Communications Commission radio licenses for $1.9 million.

If approved by the FCC, the licenses will be transferred to SoniqWave Networks, a Michigan-based company.

The board accepted Superintendent Brian Shumate’s recommendation that they approve the purchase agreement at the board’s meeting Monday night.

One of the licenses, call sign WNC417, covers an area in south Georgia and north Florida, west of Valdosta. The coverage area includes Moultrie, Georgia; Cairo, Georgia and part of Tallahassee, Florida.

WNC417 is currently being leased to SoniqWave at a cost of $1,500 per month in a contract that would otherwise expire in 2041. The license is already in use and is being sold for $500,000.

The second license, call sign WLX866, is not currently in use. It is closer to Atlanta and therefore more valuable, containing in its area LaGrange, parts of West Point, Newnan and Carrolton and parts of east Alabama. The license is being sold for $1.4 million

Time is of the essence, as a recent FCC order made it so that the WLX866 license would expire and become worthless on March 23 of this year if it is not put into use by TCSS, leased or sold.

TCSS went through a bidding and request for proposal process which led to a competitive bidding between SoniqWave and another company.

Gerry Lederer, a telecommunications lawyer who TCSS employed to assist with the sale, said the competition was beneficial to TCSS in driving up the price.

“As I reported to the executive committee a couple of weeks ago, we finally got our first offer. And I kind of laughed at the offer, and we were able to push it up,” Lederer said.

Lederer said he had originally thought a combined price of $1.2 million would be a good deal.

The other bidder was not willing to go as high as SoniqWave, Lederer said, and wanted to wait until the sale was approved by the FCC before paying TCSS. SoniqWave has agreed to pay a deposit of 25 percent, $475,000 upon TCSS’s approval of the deal, with the remainder being paid after the FCC approves it.

If the FCC does not approve the deal, TCSS has the option to refund SoniqWave or to apply the deposit against future lease payments under the existing lease.

Board member Allen Simpson asked Lederer about the timeline of FCC approval.

Lederer explained that the FCC needs to approve the deal before March 23 in order for the sale to succeed. It was better, though, that the deal was being filed with the FCC now, as it will likely receive a large volume of deals for approval as the deadline draws closer.

This just gives us a little extra time to make sure that we don’t turn into Cinderella at the ball,” Lederer said.

“We want to make sure you’re not waiting until five minutes to midnight to have everything in place.”

SoniqWave must first build out the network that is not currently in use as a prerequisite for FCC approval.

Lederer said they are incentivized to do this in order to acquire the license and that the purchaser is responsible for legal expenses and filing for approval under the agreement.