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Dish is Clear Frontrunner in January H-Block Spectrum Sale

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If all goes as expected, Dish Network Corp. (NASDAQ: DISH) will be picking up a chunk of H-Block wireless spectrum in January.

Dish CEO Charlie Ergen will have little in the way of competition based on the list of 34 bidders released by the Federal Communications Commission Wednesday.

According to AllThingsD, BTIG analyst Walter Piecyk, in a research note said, “The list of bidders for the FCC’s H-Block spectrum auction is out and there doesn’t appear to be any major companies planning on challenging Dish for the spectrum.”

In the note Piecyk added, “While large companies can often use aliases like American H Block Wireless LLC or PCS Partners LP, there are no clear indications that the likes of Verizon, Amazon or Google are planning to bid.”

Of the 34 bids received, 14 are complete. The other 20 will require some additional information or modification to meet FCC standards.

Dish is expected to be the lone major bidder. Sprint (NYSE: S) said in November it would not participate in the sale. Other participants are mostly small regional wireless carriers, interested in specific pieces of the available spectrum.

The H Block spectrum being put up for bids is adjacent to some frequencies Dish already owns. If Dish is successful, the company could control a significant slice of wireless airwaves.

Ergen’s plans for the additional spectrum are not known. The satellite CEO has said the company wants to expand its footprint in wireless and grow beyond being mostly a provider of television content.

However, in November Ergen said he might also want to look into the use of wireless spectrum to enhance Dish’s video offerings, as opposed to voice, data, or texting.

In general, Ergen said he wanted to keep all options open. This includes everything mentioned so far – plus the possible purchase of an existing mobile carrier such as T-Mobile US (NYSE: TMUS).

Related: Sprint Beats Out Dish for Clearwire Spectrum

One thing is certain, according to Macquarie analyst Amy Yong who told Reuters, "Clearly he (Ergen) thinks that's going to open doors for him." Yong estimated that the acquisition could add about $3 to the value of each Dish share.

The deadline for bid applications is December 18. A final list of bidders will be published shortly after January 1 and the auction will take place on January 22.

Dish shares were up flat Friday premarket at $54.09.

At the time of this writing, Jim Probasco had no position in any mentioned securities.

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