Satellite TV broadcaster Dish Network appears to be the sole winner of so-called H-block spectrum put up for auction in the US.
FCC, the US telecoms regulator, announced one bidder – American H Block Wireless (which is widely reported to be Dish) – had snapped up all of the 176 licences (one in each of the 176 economic areas) for the total reserve price of $1.564 billion.
The H-block comprises a small 5MHz slice of spectrum, both on the downlink and the uplink, in the 1915-1920MHz and 1995-2000MHz frequency bands.
Dish had agreed in advance to pay the $1.56 billion reserve price and was favourite to win the spectrum after Sprint, number three mobile operator in the US, had earlier ruled itself out of the running for H-block spectrum.
The H-block spectrum auction is part of FCC’s goal, made in 2009, to release an extra 500MHz in spectrum – within ten years – for commercial mobile use.
FCC is to use the auction proceeds to help fund a nationwide wireless public safety network.
“With this successful auction, the commission makes good on its commitment to unleash more spectrum for consumers and businesses, delivering a significant down payment towards funding the nationwide interoperable public safety network,” said Tom Wheeler, FCC chairman, in a statement.
He added that the H Block auction was “a win for the American people”.
Dish has long been on the lookout for more spectrum. It made failed bids last year for Sprint and Clearwire with the aim of complementing its satellite TV operation with mobile services.
The H-block spectrum, however, is unlikely to enable Dish to set up as a standalone mobile operator. Partnership with others is a more likely course.