The FCC used Thanksgiving Eve to tell Charlie Ergen that his Dish Network had improperly received $3.3 billion in 5G licence fee discounts back in 2015.
The 25 per cent fee discounts were tapped by Dish Network because Ergen’s team had claimed – successfully at the time – that it was a “designated entity” as it made its bids using two arms-length businesses, Northstar Wireless and SNR Wireless to make bids on behalf of Dish.
The FCC decision was not unanimous. However, the consequences would suggest that Dish could have to re-pay the value of the discounts. The FCC said that Dish was the primary owner of these two businesses.
At the time (February 2015) Dish Network said, in a statement: “We respectfully disagree with the criticism of the Designated Entity program, and we are confident that we fully complied with the DE rules in the AWS-3 auction.” Dish added: “The company notes it publicly disclosed its approach before the auction and that AT&T and Verizon have used the structures in past auctions.”
Ergen is one of the world’s arch-litigators, and can be depended upon to fight this one enthusiastically.