Dish Network Chairman Charlie Ergen has reportedly made an offer to buy LightSquared’s spectrum holdings for $2 billion.
Bloomberg reported that LightSquared could use the proceeds from the sale to pay off secured debt. Last year, LightSquared filed for bankruptcy after failing to obtain FCC approval to deploy a satellite/LTE network on its spectrum.
The FCC denied LightSquared’s request on the basis of concerns deployment would interfere with GPS signals and mission-critical services. But last month, LightSquared did score FCC approval to begin testing the technical feasibility of using the 1675–1680 MHz band for mobile broadband services on a shared basis with existing federal operations.
It’s possible that Ergen sees spectrum-sharing value in the airwaves in light of this new round of testing. But Bloomberg sees Dish’s move as a possible stalking-horse bid that could be used to set the value of a company’s assets in a bankruptcy auction.
Getting a hold of LightSquared’s spectrum would represent another big boost to Dish’s wireless service aspirations. Dish has been incredibly active in 2013 in pursuing that goal, bidding against Sprint for minority control of struggling WiMax wholesaler Clearwire and proposing a $25.5 billion merger offer with Sprint. The latter bid goes against the deal Sprint already agreed to with SoftBank that would allow the Japanese carrier to acquire a 70-percent stake in Sprint for $20 billion. That, in turn, has sparked a recent war of words between Ergen and SoftBank CEO Masayoshi Son, both determined to prove their company’s deal is the best for Sprint.