According to a new report from New Street Research analyst Jonathan Chaplin, Charlie Ergen's Dish Network could acquire the most spectrum of any company--around 60 MHz--over the course of the next year or so. If Dish is indeed successful in acquiring the spectrum, the company would own a spectrum war chest of as much as 100 MHz--positioning the company as a potentially major player in the wireless market.
Dish, Sprint and T-Mobile hold very large amounts of high-band spectrum and have been using it to support lots of network and service innovations as a way to compete against AT&T and Verizon. So, why is there such a resurgence of commotion about the virtues of "low-band spectrum?"
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has been on the job for barely two weeks, but Sprint, T-Mobile US, Dish Network and other smaller carriers are already lobbying him to ensure rules that let them get access to 600 MHz broadcast TV spectrum in the forthcoming incentive auctions.
In the span of 48 hours this week executives from both Sprint and T-Mobile US declared that their companies will not participate in the Jan. 22 auction of the 1900 MHz PCS H Block, leaving Dish Network the most likely winner of the spectrum. Analysts said the two carriers are avoiding the H Block auction because they want to focus on their existing spectrum holdings and wait for other upcoming auctions, as well as a avoid complications with Dish and its chairman, Charlie Ergen.
Sprint stunned the market and said it will not participate in the Jan. 22 auction of the 1900 MHz PCS H Block. The news surprised the industry because Sprint owns spectrum directly adjacent to the H Block and was considered a key contender for the spectrum.
T-Mobile US indicated it will not participate in the Jan. 22 auction of the 1900 MHz PCS H Block, but said it is still shopping for more spectrum from an unnamed private company.
Dish Network Chairman Charlie Ergen said his goal was to keep the company's wireless options open, but again did not rule out a merger or partnership with T-Mobile US, which itself is on the hunt for more spectrum.
T-Mobile US said it plans to sell new shares in a move that could raise as much as $1.8 billion. The company could use the cash to acquire spectrum in upcoming auctions.
The FCC approved an order to implement a 700 MHz interoperability solution that will eventually give smaller carriers access to the same 700 MHz LTE devices AT&T now uses.
It's no secret that the vast majority of what wireless executives say in public is not surprising. Usually it's a recitation of phrases, talking points and ideas they have made in the past that they are simply reinforcing. However, every once in a while, in an interview or unguarded moment, wireless executives can let loose a whopper.