T-Mobile and Dish have been linked as possible merger partners in the past, but right now T-Mo is going after Dish as a result of the company’s actions in the recent AWS-3 auction.
T-Mobile has filed a letter to the FCC explaining that Dish and its designated entity partners should be barred from bidding on AWS-3 licenses that the Dish DEs previously gave up. Those DEs forfeited around a third of the spectrum licenses that it won in the recent AWS-3 auction after the FCC denied giving the DEs a 24 percent small business credit, citing the fact that they’re basically owned by Dish. Those licenses mostly cover New York City, Chicago, and Boston.
Kathleen O’Brien Ham, T-Mo’s SVP of government affairs, tells the FCC that Dish deprived other bidders of acquiring AWS-3 licenses that would’ve been put to use right away. Dish has yet to serve a single wireless customer, Ham says, and allowing Dish or its DEs to bid on licenses that they gave up would be unfair to the other bidders and would “effectively give [Dish] an extension of time to meet the build-out requirements for the defaulted licenses.”
T-Mobile also wants Dish and its DEs to be labeled as “former defaulters,” a move that’d require them to make a 50 percent larger upfront payment if they want to participate in next year’s 600MHz auction.
Dish hasn’t commented on T-Mobile’s letter to the FCC, but you have to imagine that it’s not enthused. Preventing Dish and its DEs from re-bidding on AWS-3 licenses would eliminate some of the competition, giving T-Mo a better chance to grab some. The same could apply to next year’s 600MHz auction. Making Dish pony up a 50 percent larger upfront payment could dissuade it from participating. T-Mobile has said that it has big plans for the 600MHz auction that include buying licenses for parts of the US that aren’t covered by 700MHz licenses, as well as major metro areas that could use a coverage boost.