Could Next Year Bring 4G LTE Wireless Service From Dish Network?

This week sees Dish Network finally get approval from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to convert the spectrum they currently use for their satellite service into spectrum that can support a wireless network. The satellite TV company (and soon to be wireless provider) has worked to build up spectrum holdings in order to decrease its reliance on its subscription satellite service. This is an important step in Dish Network’s plan to expand their business and offer 4G LTE wireless service. However, they aren’t in a rush to act on it yet, stating that they plan to thoroughly review all the technical details of the order before deciding on the best approach.

Dish Network's Statement On The AWS-4 Spectrum Decision

The FCC has removed outdated regulations and granted terrestrial flexibility for most of the AWS-4 band. We appreciate the hard work and focus of the FCC and its staff throughout this process. The Commission has taken an important step toward facilitating wireless competition and innovation, and fulfilling the goals of the National Broadband Plan. Following a more thorough review of the order and its technical details, DISH will consider its strategic options and the optimal approach to put this spectrum to use for the benefit of consumers.

Unanimous Vote

The FCC unanimously approved the proposal by Dish to offer smartphone service. During a news conference yesterday at the agency’s Washington headquarters, Chairman of the FCC, Julius Genachowski, said that the unanimous vote is a “major step to free up spectrum for mobile broadband and to drive new services, new competition in the mobile sector”.

Dish needed approval by the FCC before they can start wireless service, but was held back until this week by concern of possible interference with the government-owned frequencies of the H Block. Dish offered a portion of their spectrum to be used as a kind of “guard band” to help protect the H Block.

To help fulfill President Obama’s goal of freeing up 500 MHz of spectrum for broadband, the agency will work to free up 100 MHz in the 3.5 GHz H Block band for broadband use to help meet increasing consumer demand.

Last month, it was reported that Dish Network has had talks with Google to partner together to bring voice and data plans to mobile users. Sprint Nextel Corp. has also approached Dish offering a partnership that would let the satellite company offer smartphone service over their network in return for access to Dish’s mobile airwaves. They could share revenue or Dish would pay Sprint to use the network. Dish could now easily partner with either, but we will have to wait and see.

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