The decision favoring the wireless carrier, following an intensive battle, came in a unanimous decision by the Federal Communications Commission. Rivals immediately denounced the decision and the matter almost certainly will wind up in court, the Wall Street Journal said.
In a deal worth $4.8 billion, the FCC voted 5-0 Thursday to grant Nextel's request for a 10-megahertz swath of prized spectrum, capable of handling new services such as wireless Web browsing.
In return, Nextel would return portions of its interference-causing airwaves valued at roughly $1.6 billion and agree to spend at least $3.2 billion to help relocate affected users.
"Today it's more important than ever before that public safety agencies have access to reliable, robust, interference-free communications systems," FCC Chairman Michael Powell said in a statement.
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