Dish Network Says FCC Proposal Would Cripple Wireless Plans

As Dish tries to become a wireless carrier, the FCC is looking at a plan the company said would delay the build-out of its wireless network.

Satellite broadcast service provider Dish Network may have taken a general step forward with the Federal Communications Commission in its goal to become a wireless carrier, but the company panned the FCC’s plan, saying their proposal was too restrictive.

Dish issued a statement responding to the rules that would, once approved by the full Commission, govern 40 MHz of broadband-ready AWS-4 wireless spectrum controlled by Dish Network.

The company has declared its intent to launch a wireless business assuming the FCC delivers rules making it economically and technically feasible to do so, and expects to invest billions of dollars to create a wireless broadband network that would power a variety of mobile and fixed devices, including smartphones, tablets and computers.

“While the FCC’s proposed order, based on reported accounts, does properly address some of the opportunities with this spectrum, it’s significantly flawed by introducing serious limitations that impair its utility,” said Dish executive vice president and general counsel R. Stanton Dodge. “While the FCC would grant full terrestrial rights, its proposal to lower our power and emissions levels could cripple our ability to enter the business.”

In the draft order, the FCC seems to back a proposal, advanced by rival carrier Sprint, calling on Dish to disable 25 percent of its uplink spectrum and impair another 25 percent of that spectrum to accommodate possible future use by Sprint of neighboring H Block spectrum—which the FCC does not currently license and is currently unused. Sprint, which controls more than 200 MHz of wireless spectrum, has expressed interest in acquiring rights to the 5 MHz H Block.

“Sprint’s position on the H Block would render useless 25 percent of Dish’s uplink spectrum – so that Sprint is positioned to merely gain the exact same amount of spectrum,” Dodge said. “This is a zero-sum approach that does not result in a net spectrum gain for the American consumer when the wireless economy needs access to all available spectrum. Nor does this approach add jobs.”

If the proposed plan was adopted, it could result in a reopening of the standards-setting process led by the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP). Without 3GPP approval, wireless companies do not have the required technical blueprints needed to design and build everything from cellphone chipsets to broadband networks. Dish said gaining new approvals could add years to a process that has already lasted 20 months since it acquired two bankrupt companies in its efforts to bring the spectrum to market.

“The H Block should be subject to the same auction and rulemaking processes that have applied to other spectrum bands for decades,” Dodge argued. This approach will ultimately free up the H Block for its highest-and-best use based upon input from all interested parties, and will lead to more investment, more jobs, more competition and more spectrum for wireless consumers.”