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DC Court Confirms Dish Was Scammed Over 5G Spectrum Bids, Withdraws $3.4 Billion in Loans

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Dish has been called a spectrum hoarder multiple times, as the company sits on piles of unused bandwidth that everyone – from cellular carriers to Elon Musk’s SpaceX – want a piece of it.

The arguments went as far as the FCC’s decision to allow some spectrum sharing, but Dish is fighting tooth and nail for one of its biggest competitive advantages. The last example is the FCC’s lawsuit against Dish in the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit that resulted in a favorable ruling from the FCC.
When the FCC auctioned off a bunch of AWS-3 spectrum a few years ago, two so-called Designated Entities (DE) — Northstar Wireless and SNR Wireless — won a total of $3.4 billion in bid credits.

The DE system was put in place by the FCC to ensure that smaller players also get the chance to bid and win some spectrum. Despite the warnings from the FCC, however, Dish apparently went and silently founded Northstar Wireless and SNR Wireless, trying to make them look like the companies had nothing to do with it.

Ultimately, however, the $3.4 billion in bid credits were controlled by Dish, the DC Court ruled, and the consents must be revoked. Dish appealed and is now also losing appeal, so it seems increasingly likely it will have to let go of rights across the respective part of the spectrum.

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