Dish urges FCC not to shift its satellite spectrum holdings

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Dish Network is urging the FCC not to shift its spectrum holdings in the 2 GHz band and to approve rules for using satellite spectrum in terrestrial settings, according to an FCC filing.

The filing, published Tuesday, notes that on Aug. 24 Zachary Katz, chief of staff for FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, met with Jeffrey Blum, Dish's senior vice president and deputy general counsel. At the meeting, Dish said that a "5 MHz upward shift at 2000-2020 MHz would needlessly inject serious regulatory and technical obstacles" into Dish's plans.

Dish is awaiting final FCC rules on the terrestrial use of MSS spectrum and is seeking a crucial waiver to offer terrestrial-only devices. However, Dish has indicated it will move ahead with handsets that use the satellite component of the wireless network regardless of the FCC's actions.

Dish said a 5 MHz shift would set back its mobile broadband plans for several reasons, most notably because it "would introduce substantial delay and risk into the standard-setting process, which in turn would further delay--if not possibly scuttle--Dish's planned deployment." Dish also said a shift in its holdings "would significantly undermine the usefulness" of its 2 GHz satellites by limiting the spectrum available for satellite service.

Earlier this year the FCC voted to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking that explores how the S-band of MSS spectrum, which the FCC has renamed "AWS-4," should be designed so that the satellite spectrum can be repurposed for terrestrial use. Dish currently owns 40 MHz of S-band spectrum--specifically from 2000-2020 MHz and 2180-2200 MHz--and is seeking waivers from the FCC to use it for terrestrial mobile broadband. Additionally, the FCC will look at repurposing the 1695-1710 MHz band for commercial mobile broadband, which analysts said could mean Dish's spectrum holdings might get shifted.

Dish said in a filing to the FCC in May that it will not be able to launch its proposed LTE Advanced network using its spectrum until 2016 or later. This is about 12 months beyond the FCC's current proposed buildout schedule, which requires Dish to launch its network in three years covering 30 percent of the U.S. population. However, Dish has indicated that when it does launch its network, it will cover 60 percent of the U.S. population.

Dish, which paid $2.78 billion in 2011 for its spectrum in bankruptcy proceedings, has argued that the FCC's buildout requirements are not feasible and are not in line with similar requirements for terrestrial services. For example, Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility have 10 years to cover 75 percent of the population using the 700 MHz spectrum licenses they won at auction.

For more:
- see this FCC filing

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