WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation chairman Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) issued the following statement on the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) decision that two DISH Network affiliates, SNR Wireless and Northstar Wireless, were not eligible for $3.3 billion in bidding credits:
“I applaud the FCC for taking meaningful action to address the questions I raised about the conduct of DISH and its two affiliates in the most recent spectrum auction. However, I remain concerned that the FCC’s constantly changing approach to designated entity rules may still prove ineffective in preventing future bidders from gaming the system to the disadvantage of authentic small and minority-owned businesses. The FCC is responsible for putting our nation’s spectrum resources to the most productive and efficient use possible, and I will continue to press the FCC to ensure future spectrum auctions are fair and competitive.”
In April, the Commerce Committee launched a probe over DISH Network’s bidding strategies in the FCC’s Auction 97 for Advanced Wireless Services. The FCC conducts auctions, like Auction 97, as a means for selling the rights to licenses for public bandwidth frequencies for private sector use – typically for uses such as mobile phones, satellite broadcasts, terrestrial radio and television broadcasts. Auction 97 took place through rounds of bidding on divisions of geographically based spectrum frequency from November 2014 through January 2015.
In Auction 97, DISH Network utilized a strategy involving two subsidiary entities, Northstar Wireless and SNR Wireless LicenseCo. Acting as “very small businesses,” Northstar and SNR initially received a 25% discount on the price of all winning bids. The FCC’s decision strips Northstar and SNR of this $3.3 billion discount.