The FCC ruled unanimously Tuesday night that Dish Network CEO Charlie Ergen improperly bid on $12 billion worth of wireless spectrum back in 2015, and received a $3-plus billion discount through a government program designed to benefit small businesses. Ergen bid on the spectrum not through Dish Network, a massive satellite and soon-to-be 5G carrier, but through an outfit known as Northstar Wireless, which he has a stake in.
t’s part of an aggressive push towards super-fast 5G wireless services, which require new swaths of airwaves to become available to the carriers building the networks. The FCC said it wants to hold two auctions — first of the 28 GHz band and then of the 24 GHz band — starting later this year.
Counting the $6.2 billion of spectrum he bought in the incentive auction, Dish Network Chairman Charlie Ergen has now shelled out more than $21 billion for spectrum. With sale and partnership possibilities limited, he may forge ahead alone with plans to provide the backbone for the so-called internet of things.This column originally appeared as the “Scherman’s Notebook” column in the March 1 Satellite Business News.
Senate lawmakers are looking for ways to put even more of the government’s wireless spectrum into the hands of the private sector. Under the draft text of a bill now being informally considered by the Senate Commerce Committee, the government could be instructed to find and relinquish an additional 20 megahertz of publicly owned spectrum beyond the 30 MHz President Obama agreed to when he signed a two-year budget deal on Monday. Agencies would be required to auction off the total 50 MHz by 2024.