The FCC is set to auction off a new chunk of wireless spectrum starting on January 22. The spectrum auction in January will see the FCC selling of H block frequency. This will be the first auction of wireless spectrum since 2008. There will be multiple bidders on the spectrum, but there will be one 600-pound gorilla in the bidding war.
Dish Network will be competing against smaller wireless carries and individuals for the opportunity to purchase the H Block frequencies. So far, there have been 34 applicants to participate in the auction, including Dish.
The H block spectrum is particularly appealing to Dish because it is adjacent to some frequency that Dish already owns. That means that by winning the H Block frequency, Dish would get its hands on a larger contiguous slice of valuable wireless spectrum. One thing that remains unclear is what exactly Dish might do with the spectrum if it wins the auction.
Dish has attempted to get its hands on wireless carriers and more spectrum in the past, notably when it bid $25.5 billion for Sprint. Dish previously said that it would bid up to $1.56 billion for the H Block spectrum if the FCC would allow flexibility on how it could use some spectrum it already owns. The FCC hasn’t loosened any restriction on Dish yet, but Dish's pledge of $1.56 billion did become the base price for the auction. No deal will be made until bids reach $1.56 billion.