Dish Wins Big in Spectrum Auction

When the Federal Communications Commission auctioned off about $19 billion worth of wireless spectrum last week, the most voracious bidders were wireless companies like Verizon and AT&T who plan to use the airwaves for expansions of phone and data services.

But one wealthy bidder was not like the others. Satellite TV broadcaster Dish Network got its hands on $711 million worth of 700-Megahertz spectrum.

What's a satellite company going to do with earth-bound wireless spectrum of the one-way-only 700-Megahertz variety? It isn't going to start up a phone company or an Internet data service - this kind of spectrum can't make a two way connection. It can, however, broadcast small chunks of video to wireless devices. Analysts speculate that Dish could soon enter the mobile TV business, which could cost $5 billion to build. Dish's win includes 168 licenses, which covers most of the U.S.

Dish is staying mum on the strategy behind its spectrum bid. If all else fails, the company can always sell the scarce spectrum to the highest bidder later for even more cash, and use the proceeds to launch more satellites. -Rachel Rosmarin

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