FCC commissioner objects to Dish's 'small business' discounts in AWS-3

FCC commissioner Ajit Pai sharply criticized rules that allowed Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH) to claim more than $3 billion in discounts aimed at small businesses during the government's just completed AWS-3 wireless spectrum auction.

Pai, one of two Republicans on the five-member Federal Communications Commission panel, says he will ask FCC chairman Tom Wheeler to investigate the award, which he says "makes a mockery" of the government agency's small business discount program.

Dish obtained $13.3 billion in winning bids, even surpassing Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ). (FierceWireless' Phil Goldstein has a complete breakdown of Dish's wireless strategy here.)

Dish qualified for the discounts because it bid via a pair of joint ventures that reported having less than $15 million in annual revenue. Dish's winning bids were listed under "Northstar Wireless" and "SNR Wireless LicenseCo." 

Dish reported revenue of $3.68 billion in the third quarter of 2014 alone.

If the discounts hold, Dish's auction bill will be reduced to about $10 billion. The satellite TV company with wireless aspirations finished second in the bidding behind AT&T ($18.2 billion) and ahead of Verizon ($10.4 billion).

For more:
- read this Wall Street Journal story
- read this FierceWireless story

Related links:
How Dish Network's Charlie Ergen built a spectrum powerhouse--and what's next
AWS-3 AUCTION RESULTS: AT&T leads with $18.2B, Verizon at $10.4B, Dish at $10B and T-Mobile at $1.8B
Analysts divided over how much they believe AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Dish spent in AWS-3 auction

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