Disgraced former hedge fund manager Phil Falcone hasn’t had a lot to smile about over the last few years. He’s persona non grata at his both of his own companies. His big plans for Frederick’s of Hollywood and long-term care insurance didn’t pan out. There’s the embarrassing racism lawsuit. Then there are the tax bills. Oh, God, so many tax bills, and he’s just so bad at paying them. And that’s before we even get into his apparent cash shortage, subsequent alleged sale of loan collateral, and further subsequent asset freezes.

When did things start going wrong for Falcone? It’s tempting to suggest it was the last time he was hard up for money to pay his taxes, which led to his eviction from the hedge fund business he totally didn’t want to be in anymore anyway. But, of course, that drama played out adjacent to the real turmoil in Falcone’s life at that point, his doomed battle to build the best damned 4G network (yes, it was that long ago) you’ve ever seen. Like everything else over the last decade or so, that didn’t work out. What stood between Falcone and networking dominance were America’s farmers and other GPS users. Seems the providers of those services had been casually using the share of the electromagnetic spectrum that Falcone’s LightSquared owned and planned to use for its network, and even though they were squatters, the consequences, they said, of allowing that spectrum’s owner to, you know, use it were so dire—crashing planes, famine, etc.—that the authorities simply could not allow it to do so. And they didn’t, which enabled another would-be wireless data mogul, Dish Network’s Charlie Ergen, to secretly buy up most of LightSquared’s debt on the cheap in an effort to wrest it from Falcone’s hands. And while that effort eventually failed, so too did Falcone’s efforts to hold Ergen accountable for it, and also Falcone’s 4G dreams. So however else Phil must be feeling these days, he must at least be allowing himself a wry smile, and maybe even a moment of actual happiness, at this delightful bit of irony.

[Elon] Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp., better known as SpaceX, told the regulator it needed those airwaves, which sit above 12 gigahertz on the wireless spectrum, free and clear for its Starlink swarm of satellites to beam high-speed broadband internet service to disconnected homes across the country.

The Tesla billionaire’s main antagonist in this case is Dish Network Corp. Chairman Charlie Ergen, another mogul with a history of tangling with regulators. Mr. Ergen’s Dish and his allies—who include Dell Computer founder Michael Dell through his personal investment fund, MSD Capital—are pressing the government to allow cellphone towers to send high-speed internet signals over the same airwaves. SpaceX and fellow satellite operator OneWeb oppose changes that they say threaten their goal of expanding internet access from the skies….

In a March filing with the FCC, SpaceX accused Dish of making “increasingly desperate claims to support its quest to add even more frequencies to its warehouse of unused spectrum,” adding that Mr. Ergen’s company would be better off building the network it promised “rather than spending its time trying to take service away from the customers of those actually delivering on promises….”

“We don’t want to fight with them,” [Dish public policy chief Jeffrey Blum] says. “We don’t need to fight.”

Expect a bit more gleeful relish and maybe even some extra candies at Casa Falcone this Halloween.

Elon Musk vs. Charlie Ergen: Battle of the Billionaires Over Spectrum [WSJ]

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