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Dish's Designated Entities Give Up 197 Spectrum Licenses

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Oct 2, 2015, 7:31 AM   by Eric M. Zeman

Northstar Wireless and SNR Wireless LicenseCo surrendered 197 AWS-3 spectrum licenses and paid a $413 million fine to the FCC for defaulting on their $3.3 billion payment. Dish Networks participated in this year's auction through Northstar and SNR. Dish hoped the smaller stature of the designated entities would qualify them for a discount on the spectrum licenses. Together, they won $13.3 billion worth of licenses and expected to receive a discount of $3.3 billion. The FCC later concluded that Dish held a controlling interest in the designated entities and they did not qualify for the small business discount. As such, the entities were on the hook for the full $13.3 billion. The companies paid the FCC $10 billion, but missed the deadline for paying the final $3.3 billion. As such, they have returned the spectrum licenses and paid the resulting fine. The FCC will re-auction the licenses after next year's 600MHz incentive auction, though Dish, Northstar, and SNR will be on the hook to cover the balance if the licenses don't win $3.3 billion when put back on sale. Dish and the smaller companies held onto some 505 spectrum licenses won during the AWS-3 auction, for which they have paid in full.

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