Ina Fried

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Dish’s Charlie Ergen Looks Assured of More Spectrum as No Other Big Names Enter Auction

The Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday revealed the list of bidders for the upcoming spectrum auction, and it looks as though Dish’s Charlie Ergen won’t have much in the way of competition.

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The FCC said in a public notice that it has received 34 bids, some of which are fully complete and some of which need further modification to meet the agency’s standards.

“The list of bidders for the FCC’s H-Block spectrum auction is out and there doesn’t appear to be any major companies planning on challenging Dish for the spectrum,” BTIG analyst Walter Piecyk said in a research note. “While large companies can often use aliases like American H Block Wireless LLC or PCS Partners LP, there are no clear indications that the likes of Verizon, Amazon or Google are planning to bid.”

Dish is said to be among the bidders, according to a source. A Dish representative declined to comment.

It’s unclear if Dish will have any nationwide rivals as many of the potential bidders are likely interested in certain geographic areas. The commission doesn’t make public which bidders are interested in which geographic areas.

Piecyk said there are a few recognizable names on the list, including some smaller telecom firms such as NTELOS, Piedmont Rural and James Valley Cooperative Telecom.

But none of the known bidders would appear to be in a position to broadly challenge Dish if it wants to complete its $1.5 billion bid for H Block spectrum.

This outcome appeared likely after Sprint said last month that it had decided not to bid on the spectrum. FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel had urged her fellow commissioners to combine the H Block with other spectrum to make it more attractive, but the commission voted to auction the H Block off by itself in January.

Those interested in bidding now have to make sure their application is complete and submit an upfront payment ahead of a Dec. 18 deadline. A final list of bidders for the Jan. 22 auction will be made public early in the new year.


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik