Dish's Ergen: We have enough spectrum for wireless biz

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Dish Network Chairman Charlie Ergen said the company has enough spectrum to start its wireless business, but that the company is still waiting for FCC approval to use its satellite spectrum for terrestrial mobile broadband and is still looking for wireless carriers to partner with.

During the company's first-quarter earnings conference call, Ergen noted that the company has 40 MHz of S-band satellite spectrum and 6 MHz of 700 MHz spectrum. "Hopefully, there'll be new spectrum coming on the market. Hopefully, there'll be other ways to make spectrum more efficient," Ergen said, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript. "And we certainly think that if we're allowed to enter the marketplace, our 45-megahertz spectrum is certainly enough to enter the marketplace and compete."

The FCC is currently considering rules that would allow companies with satellite spectrum in the 2 GHz MSS band to use that spectrum with ground-based cell towers. Initial comments on the proceeding are due May 17, while replies are due June 1. Dish had hoped to get a waiver from the FCC to build a terrestrial network with its satellite spectrum, but the agency appears to be moving forward with rules that would apply to the entire sector and not just Dish. Ergen noted that wireless is a complex business, that Dish is learning as much as it can about the industry and that the company is getting up to speed.

As he has in the past, Ergen noted that Dish is willing to partner with other wireless companies to launch its proposed LTE Advanced network. "We're talking to everybody out there that has some piece of the wireless business that we think can help us either as a vendor or a partner or a customer, whether that be in the chipsets, the handsets, the towers and so forth and so on," he said.

Ergen said assuming Dish doesn't build the network itself or sell the spectrum--what he called the two extremes of Dish's wireless possibilities--he said it makes sense for the company to partner with an established wireless player. "They already have towers. They already have relationships. They already have spectrum. They already have handsets," he said. "It makes sense to work with them because we bring something that makes the transition for them, particularly to LTE, much easier, so--and we also bring video in a way that they may not be able to do themselves."

For more:
- see this Seeking Alpha transcript
- see this Bloomberg article
- see this Multichannel News article
- see this Reuters article
- see this Denver Post article

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