D.C. Circuit Affirms FCC’s Decision to Deny AWS-3 Auction Bidding Credits to Northstar and SNR Wireless

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The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (D.C. Circuit) has affirmed the FCC’s Order denying Northstar Wireless and SNR Wireless of very small business bidding credits in the AWS-3 Auction, conducted in 2014 through 2015.  After the auction was completed, the FCC determined that Northstar and SNR were not eligible for the very small business bidding credit they had each claimed reasoning that the companies were actually de facto controlled by their largest investor, DISH. 

Northstar and SNR petitioned the D.C. Circuit in 2017 to overturn that decision.  The D.C. Circuit affirmed the Commission’s decision, in part, while remanding the case in order to give Northstar and SNR an opportunity to cure their agreements with DISH.  Even after modified agreements were submitted to the FCC, it denied Northstar and SNR the very small business bidding credits. The companies again appealed to the D.C. Circuit, which has again upheld the FCC’s Order denying them bidding credits reasoning that the companies have now had an opportunity to cure and were given fair notice of the legal standards at issue.

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