FCC Commission Ajit Pai says Dish Network has made “a mockery” of the FCC’s small business discount program that gave $25% discounts to qualifying businesses in the recent AWS-3 spectrum auction. Dish owns majority control of Northstar Wireless and SNR wireless, both which received discounts that Dish itself couldn’t qualify for, saving Dish over $3 billion. Dish, via Northstar and SNR, was the #3 spender ($10 B), behind Verizon ($10.4 B) and AT&T ($18.2 B). Pai has asked FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to investigate, saying that “arbitrageurs” and “creative end-runs” are not right. We tend to agree, but are not at all surprised by Dish’s ploy. Furthermore, we wonder what Dish will do with all this spectrum. It has a 2017 deadline to use 40% for mobile and 4G builds, which it’s not close to doing yet. Perhaps it will lease spectrum back to some of the Big 4 wireless carriers – or build on a partnership with Sprint or T-Mobile? Some analysts are wondering if Dish will seek to become the newest wireless service provider itself – but we doubt that it is ready to make the $10 billion investment in infrastructure builds. The likely result (as is the trend nowadays) is some kind of streaming video service.. Read More
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