Dish on the Auction

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The FCC’s AWS-3 auction that began last week has already surpassed $16.25 billion, according to Jonathan Chaplin at New Street Research, and Dish Network has been one of the heaviest spenders so far. Chaplin explained that prices for the paired spectrum have already passed $1/MHz-POP. If the bidding intensity holds they could be through New Street Research’s target of $1.50/MHz-POP today. “This has positive implications for DISH and negative implications for the carriers, supporting our theses in both cases. Investors that have pared back on DISH in the run up to the auction because of concerns over auction prices should be encouraged by the early bidding,” Chaplin wrote in a research note. It shouldn’t be entirely surprising that Dish is scooping up spectrum, the Wall Street Journal reported two years ago that Dish Network Charlie Ergen, co-founder and current Chairman of the Board, and former President and CEO of Dish Network, started assembling that spectrum for a total of about $3 billion half a decade ago. There’s been speculation as to what Dish will do with their spectrum, but one likely outcome is that they’ll sell it to one of the major wireless carriers. In March, the company recently won the bidding for wireless broadband frequencies in all 176 U.S. markets. Seeking Alpha noted that Dish should attempt to merge with Sprint or T-Mobile, “If Dish cannot work with Sprint, it could move to buy T-Mobile, but a Sprint merger now appears a cheaper and more viable option than ever before for Dish.” It’s no secret that Dish Network has been trying to get into the wireless industry, and this new acquisition of spectrum might make them an even more attractive buyer to Sprint or T-Mobile.

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