Dish took advantage of discounts intended for small businesses to save $3.3 billion in an auction of public airwaves, making a “mockery” of the small business program, according to a member of the Federal Communications Commission.
Dish used companies it owns in order to place $13.3 billion worth of winning bids in an auction of wireless airwaves that can be used for cellular networks. Results of the auction were announced last week. But Dish only has to pay $10 billion because it didn’t place the bids directly. FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai called upon FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler “to immediately launch an investigation into these multi-billion dollar subsidies.”
“[T]wo companies in which Dish Network has an 85 percent ownership stake claimed over $3 billion in taxpayer-funded discounts when purchasing spectrum in the AWS-3 auction,” Pai said in his call for an investigation today. “Those discounts came through the FCC’s designed entity (DE) program, which is intended to make it easier for small businesses to purchase spectrum and compete with large corporations. Dish, however, has annual revenues of almost $14 billion, a market capitalization of over $32 billion, and over 14 million customers. Its participation makes a mockery of the DE program.”
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