FCC: DISH-backed SNR, Northstar remain ineligible for USD3.3bn bidding credits

25 Nov 2020

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has released an order finding that SNR Wireless and Northstar Wireless remain ineligible for the bidding credits they sought during the AWS-3 Advanced Wireless Services auction (Auction 97). The two companies together won a large number of licences in the auction, with aggregate gross winning bids of approximately USD13.3 billion. In 2015, the FCC denied their requests for approximately USD3.3 billion in bidding credits, finding that they did not qualify for the 25% bidding credits available to very small businesses because they were controlled by DISH Network. The parties appealed, and in 2018 the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit affirmed the FCC’s findings.

The memorandum released this week concludes – based on a review of the revised agreements and the record on remand – that DISH Network continues to possess de facto control over SNR and Northstar. As a result, the two companies continue to be ineligible for the very small business designated entity bidding credits sought for the licences they won in Auction 97. Because SNR and Northstar defaulted on 197 licences – including licences in New York, Boston and Chicago – they paid the full price for the remaining spectrum they won in the 2015 AWS-3 auction. The applicants therefore do not owe the FCC the additional USD3.3 billion that they bid in the auction.