Dish seen to be in driver's seat to get LightSquared's spectrum

Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH) Chairman Charlie Ergen did not get control of Sprint (NYSE:S) or Clearwire this spring. However, from the looks of things now, he seems to be on a glide path to gain control over bankrupt LightSquared's spectrum. In May, Dish bid $2.2 billion for certain spectrum assets from LightSquared. An auction of LightSquared's spectrum assets is expected in early December, and on Monday a bankruptcy judge will hold a hearing on several plans for LightSquared's reorganization. However, it appears Ergen is in control of the process, since a hedge fund he has backed has been buying up the debt of the LightSquared entity that controls the spectrum Dish wants, giving it a major say in the sales process.

Dish has asked the FCC to let it use the 2000-2020 MHz band of its AWS-4 spectrum for downlink operations instead of uplink, and LightSquared has asked the FCC to let it use its L-band spectrum for uplink operations. The theory is that Dish could then pair its AWS-4 spectrum with LightSquared's airwaves and have more spectrum for downlink (Dish also controls the 2180-2200 MHs AWS-4 band for downlink). All of the maneuvering could substantially enhance the value of Dish's spectrum portfolio, according to analysts. Article (sub. req.)