The FCC set a total reserve price of $10.587 billion for the airwaves it will auction in the AWS-3 spectrum auction set for this fall. The commission also set out complex rules and bidding procedures for the auction, and carriers will bid on both paired and unpaired spectrum blocks in the same auction.
In a reversal, bankrupt LightSquared settled a disagreement with Dish Network Chairman Charlie Ergen over his debt claims in the company, setting the stage for LightSquared to emerge from bankruptcy with Ergen as one of its largest creditors. That could put even more pressure on Philip Falcone, the billionaire hedge fund manager who had been backing LightSquared.
Dish Network said it plans to "meaningfully" participate in next year's planned incentive auction of 600 MHz broadcast TV spectrum. The company could grab yet more airwaves to add to its existing stockpile, though it remains unclear exactly what Dish will do with its spectrum.
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LightSquared, the bankrupt wireless firm that had been controlled by hedge fund Harbinger Capital Partners, tentatively agreed to a new $3.05 billion restructuring plan that would give 74 percent ownership to JPMorgan Chase, Fortress Investment Group and Cerberus Capital Management.
Speaking at the J.P. Morgan Global Technology, Media and Telecom Conference, AT&T CFO John Stephens said the carrier considered a purchase of Dish Network's spectrum holdings, but ultimately decided against making a move over concerns that regulators at the FCC and Department of Justice might squash the deal.
Verizon Wireless is not talking to Dish Network about any kind of deal, according to Verizon Communications CEO Lowell McAdam.
Now that AT&T's bid to acquire DirecTV is official, and the FCC's rules for the spectrum screen and the 600 MHz auction are finalized, the merger-and-acquisition landscape in the wireless industry is now much, much clearer. Specifically, the proposed merger between Sprint and T-Mobile US appears significantly more daunting, and a Verizon purchase of Dish Network's spectrum appears somewhat more likely.
AT&T's announcement that it will buy DirecTV in a $49 billion deal leaves Dish Network once again without a potential partner or suitor. However, analysts say the deal could be what pushes Dish and its Chairman Charlie Ergen to find a long-term wireless partner.
AT&T Mobility said it plans to purchase between 20 MHz and 40 MHz of spectrum in the FCC's 600 MHz incentive auction of broadcast TV spectrum, set for next year, if the auction entices enough broadcasters to participate. However, Verizon Wireless said only that the FCC has made "progress" on the rules for the auction, comments likely reflecting the carrier's displeasure with auction rules designed to limit the amount of 600 MHz spectrum AT&T and Verizon can acquire during the auction.