DISH to Wait for LightSquared Auction

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Recently, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan has allowed LightSquared Inc. to send a standalone bankruptcy plan to creditors for vote. This bankruptcy exit plan has been supported by Fortress Investment Group LLC., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Melody Capital Advisors LLC.

DISH Network Corp. (DISH) has won a favorable ruling to take part in the spectrum auction of LightSquared Inc. The creditors of LightSquared can now choose LightSquared’s plan or DISH Network’s spectrum purchase.

In May 2013, DISH offered $2.22 billion to acquire 40 MHz of wireless spectrum held by LightSquared, which is currently bankrupt. However, Harbinger Capital Partners, the principal owner of LightSquared, rejected this bid stating that DISH has resorted to fraudulent means to enter the bidding process. Both DISH and EchoStar Corp. (SATS), controlled by Charlie Ergen, are major competitors of LightSquared.

In Oct 2013, a Manhattan bankruptcy judge approved DISH’s bid and has set an auction date on Nov 25, 2013. Earlier, the Federal Communications Commission (:FCC) had refused the use of this particular airwave as it was interfering with the global positioning system. This led to LightSquared’s bankruptcy. Later on, the FCC conducted more tests on the spectrum and eventually permitted an auction with a few modifications.

Meanwhile, in the last couple of years, DISH has constructed an extensive wireless/satellite spectrum base. On Jun 17, 2013, DISH and NTELOS Holdings Corp. (NTLS) jointly started providing fixed-mobile broadband network to offer high-speed Internet service to areas served by NTELOS. This joint venture will reach other parts of the U.S. in early 2014.

On Dec 17, 2013, DISH together with Sprint Corp. (S) announced that the two companies have decided to jointly develop and deploy a fixed broadband network in Corpus Christi, in Texas. The network is expected to start from mid-2014 on a trial basis. If successful, then the two entities may extend the broadband network to other areas.

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