Broken Dish: FCC Grants AWS-3 Licenses

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On April 8, the Federal Communications Commission granted AWS-3 licenses for the spectrum auction that closed January 29, 2015. While the list is fairly long, the majority of the licenses went to AT&T, Verizon (Cellco), and T-Mobile. However, the list leaves off Northstar and SNR Wireless, the two designated entity bidding partners that Dish has an 85% stake in. Since the close of the auction, in which Dish managed to secure $3 billion in discounts by using the two aforementioned companies to do their bidding, there has been discussion on whether they followed the directions. FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai has been adamant that the Commission investigate Dish and re-examine the DE rules. Dish maintains that they were upfront about their auction plans and followed the DE rules. It’s likely that Dish will receive the licenses from the auction, but it might take some time. Walter Piecyk of BTIG Research wrote in a blog post, “We are now beyond the normal time that the FCC takes to issue a license after a spectrum auction. We initially thought Dish would have been issued its spectrum by now. While it is clear that new rules will likely exist for designated entities in the upcoming incentive auction, we did not and still don’t believe any restrictive or punitive action can take place on Dish’s designated entities as a result of the AWS-3 auction.”

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