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FCC May Not Approve Spectrum Discounts For DISH Partners

July 16, 2015 - Written By Justin Diaz

The spectrum auction which took place earlier this year saw an overall higher total bid amount than was expected, with bids from carriers including T-Mobile, Verizon Wireless, and AT&T as well as other companies like DISH Network. It also saw bids from other smaller companies, two of which were reportedly backed by DISH and bid a total amount of $13.3 billion for airwaves. Those two companies which are SNR Wireless and Northstar Wireless each applied for a 25 percent small business discount which totals an amount of $3.3 billion, although it’s now being reported that the FCC may be prepared to reject those discounts.

So far the rejection isn’t confirmed, but it seems likely according to a source who is said to be apprised of the situational details. At the moment it isn’t known what the reasons would be for the FCC’s possible rejection, but it could have something to do with DISH keeping in contact with SNR Wireless and Northstar Wireless during the auction bidding. Bidding is anonymous during the time of the auction so even though all three companies were appearing to be placing bids apart, DISH was working with both companies that had already invested in. The FCC is likely reviewing whether or not this was against the FCC auction rules leading up to a decision for the discount approval.

In light of this discovery, DISH is stating that disclosing an arrangement about the investment in both companies prior to the auction as well as working together with them on bids during the auction means that they weren’t outside the realm of the auction rules, although that remains to be seen. This potential rejection comes at a time when DISH’s proposed merger talks with T-Mobile is also said to be halted. There is still no confirmation where or not either company has been in talks for a merger, but given DISH’s openly displayed interest in entering into the wireless market, it has previously seemed likely. However, with the latest details suggesting that the talks have been stalled, things may not go as DISH had been hoping. Should the talks over the deal end completely, T-Mobile’s parent company will continue the search for a buyer while DISH will end up adding another failed tick to their history of rumored attempts enter into the cell market.