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FCC seeks public comment on DISH Network?s $3.3B auction scam

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is seeking public comment on DISH Network’s actions at a recent spectrum auction and its attempt to claim more than $3 billion in discounts intended for small businesses. DISH coordinated with two smaller companies, SNR Wireless and Northstar Wireless, to win wireless licenses valued at $13 billion. SNR Wireless and Northstar, in which DISH has an 85 percent financial interest, claim they are entitled to a 25 percent bidding credit as “small” businesses.

The Communications Workers of America (CWA) along with the NAACPchallenged DISH’s auction tactic. In a joint letter to the FCC, CWA President Larry Cohen and the NAACP’s Hilary O. Shelton wrote that they “expect that the FCC will reject DISH’s attempt to qualify as a small business eligible for $3.25 billion in taxpayer subsidies.” CWA and the NAACP emphasized that this abuse undermines the legitimate purpose of the FCC’s “designated entity” program designed to encourage small, minority, and women-owned businesses.

The FCC has not yet approved the licenses or the subsidies, and is seeking public comment on them.According to the Wall Street Journal: “Shortly after the auction wrapped up, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler told the commission’s staff to study SNR and Northstar’s applications closely, saying something didn’t smell right.”  This week, Roger Sherman, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Chief, emphasized in a blog post that the FCC’s review of these applications will be “rigorous and methodical,” and that the FCC will only award bidding credits to those entities that meet the FCC’s eligibility standards.

Consumer advocates are also raising concerns about DISH’s abuse of the FCC’s rules. Co-director of Citizen Action and public interest advocate Lynda DeLaforgue called on the FCC in a Chicago Sun-Times op-ed to reject DISH’s manipulation of the rules to win $3 billion in bidding credits at taxpayer expense.  

Speed Matters encourages all those concerned about DISH’s manipulation of the designated entity program to send a public comment to the FCC.

How Loopholes Turned Dish Network Into ‘A Very Small Business’ (New York Times, Feb. 24, 2015)


How DISH Network scammed the spectrum auction for $3 million (Speed Matters, Mar. 1, 2015)


CWA, NAACP challenge DISH abuse of FCC small and minority business rules (Speed Matters, Mar. 13, 2015)


DISH letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler (CWA/NAACP, Mar. 12, 2015)


FCC Looks Into Dish Bids (Wall Street Journal, Apr. 27, 2015)


AWS-3 Update: The Licensing Process Continues (FCC, Apr. 29, 2015)


Opinion: Prevent abuses in FCC spectrum auctions (Chicago Sun-Times, Apr. 25, 2015)