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Deadline Nears for Dish Spectrum Decision

t is decision time for Dish on the AWS-3 wireless spectrum auction.

In August, the FCC voted to deny bidding credits to two Dish-related companies in the AWS-3 auction of wireless spectrum earlier this year, which raised over $40 billion for various programs and the U.S. treasury. (

The order concludes that Dish's majority financial interest in the companies are controlling interests that should be attributable to Dish, which means the companies are ineligible for the $1.9 billion (Northstar) and $1.4 billion (SNR Wireless) bidding credits they had applied for.

The order explained that the credits were denied because Dish had provided the two minority-owned companies the majority of their capital and had contracted to build out and run their wireless network, which the FCC concluded was a controlling interest that invalidated the small business designated entity (DE) bidding credits NorthStar and SNR had claimed.

The companies either had to come up with the extra $3 billion-plus on their own, or Dish would have to do so, in which case the licenses transfer to Dish.

"SNR and Northstar have until 3 p.m. today to submit either an additional payment or a letter of credit and opinion letter as discussed in the Order," said an FCC spokesperson.

An FCC spokesperson had no comment on what the impact on the auction would be if neither came through with a check or the credit letter. A Dish spokesperson had no returned a request for comment at press time.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.