There continues to be speculation about whether Dish Network will angle to buy T-Mobile US or partner with Sprint to make use of its more than 50 MHz of wireless spectrum. However, according to a new research note from New Street Research analyst Jonathan Chaplin, Dish's best path forward could be to sell its spectrum to either Verizon Wireless or AT&T and still keep its satellite TV business.
Verizon Wireless and Dish Network are battling over whether the forthcoming auction of AWS-3 spectrum should include rules that require interoperability with Dish's AWS-4 airwaves.
Dish Network Chairman Charlie Ergen did not get control of Sprint or Clearwire this spring. However, from the looks of things now, he seems to be on a glide path to gain control over bankrupt LightSquared's spectrum.
Dish Network filed a new proposal with the FCC that the company said would allow it to deploy an LTE network across its 700 MHz E Block and AWS-4 spectrum holdings. Dish is asking the FCC to set a new buildout deadline on its 700 MHz spectrum that would require the company to cover 40 percent of the population covered by its licenses by 2017 and 70 percent by 2021.
Dish Network indicated it does not plan to "meaningfully participate" in the FCC's upcoming auction of 1900 MHz PCS H Block spectrum, which could have large implications for Sprint and its competitors.
Dish Network CEO Joseph Clayton said the company is still looking for a wireless carrier to partner with to build out its planned LTE Advanced network, but he seemed to rule out Sprint Nextel as a partner.
The FCC said Dish Network must cover at least 40 percent of the population in areas covered by its spectrum with a wireless network in the next four years, or face penalties. Further, the FCC said Dish must cover at least 70 percent of that population within seven years. Dish has said it plans to build an LTE Advanced network with its spectrum.
The FCC voted unanimously to approve Dish Network's plans to use its MSS S-band spectrum for terrestrial use, an action Dish has been pushing for during the past year. Dish has said it plans to build out an LTE Advanced network by 2016. However, reports indicate that Dish will be required to use a portion of its spectrum at a lower power level than it had originally wanted, a position Sprint Nextel had pushed for.
Sprint Nextel blasted Dish Network's latest proposal to set aside 5 MHz of the lower portion of its spectrum as a "guard band" to protect the PCS H Block. Sprint said in a recent FCC filing that Dish's proposal would actually lead to an increased risk of interference in the H Block, which Sprint has indicated it wants to bid on next year to use for LTE.
Though Dish Network, Sprint Nextel and the FCC itself continue sparring over proposed rules impacting 2 GHz AWS-4 spectrum and the 1900 MHz PCS H Block, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is still aiming to wrap up its rulemaking proceeding within the month of December.