The H Block had been set aside for auction for nearly 10 years. Frequencies had to be cleared of other uses, including by Sprint, and long-running interference disputes followed. The auction winners will have to reimburse Sprint and others for clearing the spectrum.
Assuming Dish becomes the owner of the band, its most likely mobile partner is Sprint, Farrar said. Together, the two companies would have three blocks of spectrum near to each other. Dish's current mobile frequencies are in the AWS-4 (Advanced Wireless Services) block, and the company hasn't used them yet. Sprint controls the so-called G Block nearby.
Working together, the two companies could add the H Block and G Block to the Sprint mobile network and use two other blocks for a new type of service, Farrar said. That service would use the AWS-4 frequencies to connect to the Dish TV antennas on subscribers' homes, Farrar said. From there, radios on the users' roofs could deliver service nearby using spectrum that Sprint acquired with its purchase of Clearwire last year.
But a long history of bad blood between the companies could make a partnership hard, TMF's Farrar said. Dish tried to buy both Sprint and Clearwire last year while Sprint was trying to complete its $21.6 billion acquisition by Softbank, and the two companies have also feuded over interference rules for the H Block itself. It's likely that Sprint sat out this auction because it didn't want to get into another bidding war with Dish, Farrar said.
Dish said it was not allowed to comment on the auction at this time.