DISH-Controlled Entities Once Again Denied Small Business Bidding Credits

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The FCC has once again determined that SNR Wireless LicenseCo LLC (SNR) and Northstar Wireless LLC (Northstar) are ineligible for bidding credit discounts for AWS-3 licenses won in 2015 at Auction 97 due to the de facto control of both companies by DISH Network (DISH). SNR and Northstar together won $13.3 billion worth of AWS-3 licenses, the most of any one winner in Auction 97. The FCC’s Memorandum Opinion and Order on Remand follows a 2017 court appeal and remand after both SNR and Northstar claimed and were denied a 25% “Very Small Business” bidding credit discount in 2015 when the FCC determined that the companies were subject to de facto control by DISH. The appellate court upheld the FCC’s denial of bidding credits, but it also remanded the matter back to the FCC to allow the companies an opportunity to cure their applications. In 2018, SNR and Northstar amended and re-submitted their AWS-3 auction applications with amended agreements with DISH that they claimed cure their original applications and establish eligibility for the bidding credits. After pending for two years, the FCC has now determined that SNR’s and Northstar’s curative efforts were deficient. Despite the restructuring of the companies’ relationships with DISH, the FCC found that (among other things) the revised agreements still made it “inevitable” that the companies would sell their interests to DISH.

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