October 2, 2014 / 2:27 AM / 3 years ago

Big U.S. wireless carriers, Dish plan bids in airwaves auction

A Verizon wireless store is shown in Del Mar, California June 6, 2013.Mike Blake

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Three of the four largest U.S. wireless carriers and satellite provider Dish Network Corp plan to bid in the Federal Communications Commission's November auction of airwaves, according to initial applications released on Wednesday.

As expected, the largest U.S. wireless carrier Verizon Communications Inc, No. 2 AT&T Inc, No. 4 T-Mobile US Inc and Dish appeared to be the largest companies to indicate an interest in bidding in the upcoming auction of frequencies known as AWS-3.

Applications from Northstar Wireless LLC and SNR Wireless LicenseCo LLC reported they had entered bidding agreements with Dish, which had indirect ownership interest in both companies.

Northstar's disclosures showed direct and indirect ownership interest by Alaska Native corporation Doyon Ltd and indirect ownership interest by financial firm Catalyst Investors. Asset manager BlackRock Inc had membership shares in SNR, according to the documents.

T-Mobile and AT&T did not appear to plan joint bids with other companies, and T-Mobile's Kathleen Ham, vice president of federal regulatory affairs, said the carrier had no such agreements with any company.

A Verizon spokesman did not respond to inquiries about potential joint bidding and Dish representatives declined comment beyond confirming the submission of its application, citing FCC's anti-collusion rules.

A total of 80 entities submitted initial applications. Interested parties, which may or may not actually bid for wireless licenses in the auction, included smaller U.S. companies such as Bluegrass Wireless LLC, Guam-based wireless company Docomo Pacific Inc and individual spectrum investors.

Scheduled to begin on Nov. 13, the auction is expected to raise at least $10 billion and will include airwaves previously occupied by multiple federal users, including the Department of Homeland Security.

Dish applied to bid in the auction as American AWS-3 Wireless I LLC and disclosed joint bidding arrangements with SNR and Northstar, which in turn had to disclose ownership and other information.

SNR listed former FCC Wireless Bureau Chief John Muleta, now CEO of consulting firm Atelum LLC, as a contact. Muleta, reached late on Wednesday, declined comment, citing FCC's restrictions.

Northstar's disclosures listed Allen Todd, assistant secretary at Doyon, a Fairbanks-based Alaska Native Regional Corporation with numerous affiliates in various fields including oil and gas land drilling. Todd could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

SNR's and Northstar's, as well as AT&T's, initial application appeared to be incomplete, which can be caused by small bureaucratic omissions. Of the 80 applications, 47 were deemed incomplete and have to be properly finished by Oct. 15 to allow the companies to participate.

All initial applications have to put down an upfront payment by Oct. 15 to confirm participation.

Sprint, the No. 3 mobile carrier, said last month it would sit out the AWS-3 auction to save firepower for the potential purchases of spectrum in a major sale of low-frequency airwaves scheduled for next year.

Reporting by Alina Selyukh; Editing by Andre Grenon and Ken Wills

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