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Northstar Weighs In On FCC's AWS-3 Auction

There has been much talk lately about Dish's financial interest in, and relationship to, designated entities (DE) Northstar and SNR Wireless, as the FCC decides whether to grant those DEs some $3 billion-plus (a 25% discount) in bidding credits for their successful AWS-3 spectrum bids. One of the latest to weigh in is Northstar itself.

Fairbanks, Alaska-based Northstar said Thursday it welcomed the FCC's review of its licenses--the commission last week said Northstar (and SNR) applications for the spectrum they won in the auction had been accepted, though that does not mean they have yet been granted or the bidding credits approved. Still, it was a step forward and a chance for the company to argue the spectrum would be going to help minorities.

"With these licenses, Northstar Wireless is poised to become the largest minority, Native American-controlled provider of wireless services in the United States, establishing a benchmark of diversity in an industry virtually devoid of minority ownership," the company said.

The designated entity determination is meant to help small businesses, including minority and women-owned.

“We have previously been granted 43 Commission licenses, partnered with AT&T and Cricket, built out the entire Chicago market from scratch, and deployed innovative services such as prepaid unlimited plans and affordable mobile broadband.  This experience will be of enormous value as we prepare to provide new services going forward,” said Aaron Schutt, president of Doyon, an investor group that "owns and controls" Northstar, and in which Dish is a partner.

Verizon has alleged Dish illegally colluded with Northstar and SNR during the auction, which Dish disputes.

Senate Republicans signaled April 29 that they are looking into those allegations and asked for information from the FCC, Dish, Northstar and SNR.

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.