New FCC Mobile Spectrum Rules: A Positive Sign for Dish Network?

[Satellite TODAY Insider 03-23-12] The Federal Communications Commission proposed new rules March 21 that would authorize up to 40 mHz of 2 GHz Mobile Satellite Service (MSS) spectrum to host broadband services for operators.

   The proposal for that specific portion of the spectrum, known as ‘AWS-4,’ also represents a positive development for Dish Network, which would like to use the satellite bandwidth it holds to launch a terrestrial wireless network. The FCC told Dish Network that it intends to investigate its plan and vote on whether to approve the license.
   The satellite spectrum development follows the FCC’s decision in February to revoke the permission it granted to LightSquared for a similar terrestrial network plan after GPS manufacturers alleged that the infrastructure would cause major interference problems with global position service providers.
   Last week, Dish Network closed its acquisitions of the reorganized DBSD North America and substantially all of the assets of TerreStar Networks. The U.S. pay-TV operator has, to date, invested more than $3 billion to secure the licenses for the 40 MHz of nationwide 2 GHz wireless spectrum it acquired as part of the transaction.
   Stifel Nicolas Analyst David Kaut predicted that Dish would not run into the same interference problems as LightSquared because its proposed network would operate on a different spectrum.
   “The question is how the FCC will go about making this change, particularly the requirements it could impose on Dish,” Kaut said in a research note issued March 22. “There may be some interference issues, but they appear nothing like those faced by LightSquared.”
   The FCC’s ruling on Wednesday also provided a path to establishing a requirement that all devices working on 700-mHz 4G LTE networks be designed to work between carriers. Consumer and small provider industry groups have fought for easier transfer of devices among networks for the past few years.

   FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell commended FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski for proposing the rule changes. “The Commission has a checkered past of micromanaging spectrum use only to find years later that technical innovation and market demands have evolved past the government’s myopic view,” McDowell said in a statement. “Exploring ways to allow for dynamic uses of valuable frequencies while preventing harmful interference to other licensees and users is a laudable goal.”

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