FCC approves AWS-3 spectrum handover to major players; DISH affiliates play waiting game

10 Apr 2015

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has approved the assignment of AWS-3 spectrum licences to Verizon Wireless (bidding as Cellco Partnership), AT&T Mobility (bidding as AT&T Wireless Services 3 LLC) and T-Mobile US, along with several smaller bidders. However, the watchdog has yet to approve concessions won in the AWS-3 auction by two Designated Entity (DE) companies in which satellite TV giant DISH Network has an 85% economic stake. Overall, the FCC has granted spectrum permits to eleven of the 31 winning bidders, with the remainder still said to be under review.

As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, DISH emerged from the proceedings as the second highest bidder – behind AT&T – only to claim more than USD3 billion in discounts due to a technicality. Rather than bid directly, DISH invested in a pair of ‘bidding partners’, SNR Wireless and NorthStar Wireless, and under the DE programme the duo saw their collective bill slashed from USD13.327 billion to USD9.995 billion, prompting widespread industry criticism.

After more than two months and 341 rounds of bidding, Auction 97 concluded on 29 January 2015, earning the watchdog USD41.329 billion in total potential winning bids.