Sprint signs off on Dish's proposed wireless venture

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Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) has given its assent to Dish Network's plans to acquire 40 MHz of S-band satellite spectrum in the 2 GHz band, and said that Dish's proposed LTE-Advanced network for that spectrum will not interfere with Sprint's operations on its adjacent 1900 MHz PCS spectrum, according to FCC filings. The position is a reversal from Sprint's initial opinion of Dish's plans.

The filings reveal that Sprint inked an agreement with Dish earlier this month over the issue, removing a stumbling block from Dish's efforts to get the FCC to approve its acquisition of the spectrum. Dish paid $2.775 billion to purchase DBSD North America and TerreStar Networks, and intends to use the companies' spectrum to push a mobile video strategy to complement its wired video delivery service. Dish recently disclosed its trademark for the service: Ollo.

Sprint in October raised concerns about Dish's proposed venture and said Dish's receipt of the spectrum licenses should be subject to several conditions. However, earlier this month, the companies said they had reached "an agreement" on the interference issue that included relocating certain incumbent user from the 2000-2020 MHz band. In a subsequent filing, Sprint said that, based upon its understanding of Dish's plans and FCC rules, as well as pending 3GPP specifications and Sprint and Dish's willingness to engage in good-faith negotiations, it found evidence to overcome any potential interference concerns Dish's operations might cause.

The companies did not disclose the details of their agreement, including if there was a financial component.

Sprint's reversal is notable because CTIA has raised interference concerns around the spectrum Dish wants to acquire. "In recent commission proceedings, numerous parties have noted that the proximity of terrestrial uplink operations in the MSS band to downlink operations in the nearby PCS bands raises the potential for harmful interference," CTIA stated in its own filing with the FCC, dated Nov. 3. "CTIA believes that the commission should evaluate the technical issues raised by the proximity of these bands in connection with Dish's proposed technical parameters and resolve any interference issues prior to taking action on Dish's application."

In its filing to request the transfer of the spectrum licenses, Dish said that the FCC should waive its Ancillary Terrestrial Component (ATC) "integrated service" rule, and permit Dish provide dual-mode devices to customers who want them, and single-mode terrestrial devices to customers who do not want the satellite function.

The FCC has not indicated when it will rule on whether to grant the spectrum license transfer to Dish, but a decision is not expected until after the New Year. 

For more:
- see this FCC filing from Sprint
- see this separate FCC filing from Sprint
- see this third FCC filing from Sprint
- see this FCC filing from CTIA

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