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FCC Not Relenting On Dish-Opposed Cell Proposal

ENGLEWOOD, COLO. — A Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposal to repurpose Dish’s 2GHz satellite spectrum for a terrestrial voice and broadband network includes restrictions that “could cripple our ability” to enter the wireless voice and data market and add years of delay to the rollout, a Dish executive said.

But the FCC isn’t relenting.

Dish asked the FCC in May to approve its plans to use the 40MHz of satellite spectrum for terrestrial use.

Although the FCC “would grant full terrestrial rights” to Dish’s use of the spectrum, “its proposal to lower our power and emissions levels could cripple our ability to enter the business,” said R. Stanton Dodge, Dish executive VP and general counsel.

The proposed order being circulated at the FCC is “significantly flawed by introducing serious limitations that impair its utility,” he continued.

Dish contended that the FCC “appears to back a proposal, advanced solely by Sprint,” to disable 25 percent of Dish’s planned uplink spectrum and “impair” another 25 percent “to accommodate possible future use of neighboring H Block [1900MHz] spectrum by Sprint.” That 5MHz of spectrum is currently unused, and Sprint has expressed an interest in purchasing it, Dish said.

“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,” said Dodge. “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.”

The rulemaking “should be completed with the power and emissions levels that were recommended by the FCC in its April Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) and supported by most commenters (with the notable exception of Sprint), and which would not require Dish to effectively surrender 25 percent of its uplink capacity,” the company contended.

The draft proposal, if adopted, could also “add years” to the network rollout for two reasons, the company said. For one thing, Dish “may have to put on hold activities like radio design and network build out” while the FCC sets H Block technical rules that could affect Dish’s network and product design. In addition, the proposal would “likely force a reopening” of the standards-setting process led by the Third Generation Partnership Project [3GPP], which developed specifications for 4G LTE networks operating in the 2GHz band, said Dodge.

For its part, the FCC fired back and said Dish’s plan would create interference in the H Block and this prevent the government from raising as much money from a spectrum auction as it otherwise could, a Bloomberg report said. That money would be used in part to build a national public-safety mobile-broadband network.

Twenty months ago, Dish acquired two bankrupt companies that owned the satellite spectrum at a cost of $2.78 billion. The company said it has already spent $4 billion on creating its network, including the spectrumpurchase costs.