Dish Network wants to use its wireless spectrum to launch an innovative mobile video service, and is willing to partner with companies both in and out of the wireless industry to do so, according to Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen. The key to any teaming would be that Dish and its partner should be able to accomplish more together than they could apart, he said.
Sprint and T-Mobile US are pushing the FCC to allow for joint bidding arrangements in the 600 MHz incentive auction, arguing that the agency should not issue a blanket prohibition against them for nationwide operators.
Dish Network Chairman and founder Charlie Ergen, who has masterminded the company's push into the wireless market through spectrum purchases and regulatory gambits, will take over as CEO of the company at the end of March. Dish said its current CEO, Joe Clayton, will leave his position and Dish's board as of March 31.
AT&T Mobility thinks that the record-shattering AWS-3 auction proved that going forward the FCC should more skeptical of companies like Dish Network that bid for spectrum but have not commercially deployed it. AT&T also thinks Dish manipulated the FCC's designated entity system in its bidding strategy for the auction to get discounts on airwaves.
Dish Network and its bidding partners in the FCC's recently concluded AWS-3 spectrum auction bid against one another in key markets to drive prices up, forcing other carriers to pony up more money, according to a Wall Street Journal report.
Dish Network has been criticized for using two designated entities, which are essentially investment vehicles, to secure $3.33 billion in discounts in the FCC's just-completed AWS-3 spectrum auction. According to an investigation by the Wall Street Journal, while the investment structure for the entities is legal, it involves a complex web of investment partners, including a former FCC official.
Thanks to its $18.2 billion in new AWS-3 spectrum, AT&T Mobility has caught up to Verizon Wireless in spectrum ownership in major markets, according to analysts. "We estimate that AT&T and Verizon are in general parity in terms of paired low- and mid-band spectrum assets in the top 20 markets (~120 MHz), with AT&T spending $18 billion to Verizon's $10 billion," Jefferies analysts Mike McCormack, Scott Goldman and Tudor Mustata wrote in a research note.
As the dust settles on the now-completed AWS-3 spectrum auction, one FCC commissioner is blasting the discount that Dish Network's two designated bidding entities are to receive. FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai said the discount "makes a mockery" of discounts that are intended for small businesses.
Dish Network is spending around $10 billion to acquire a wide range of spectrum licenses in the FCC's now-completed AWS-3 spectrum auction. That spectrum, combined with the wide-ranging spectrum licenses that Dish already owns, will turn Charlie Ergen's company into a spectrum powerhouse. But it's still not clear what Ergen's Dish is going to do with all of its airwaves.
The FCC has revealed the identities of the winning bidders in the AWS-3 spectrum, and AT&T was the biggest bidder, with close to $18.2 billion in provisionally winning bids, roughly in line with analysts' expectations. Verizon Wireless wound up bidding $10.43 billion, less than many analysts had expected (most had expected Verizon to bid $15 billion to $20 billion).