A SpaceX filing with the FCC on Tuesday prompted the 5G for 12 GHz Coalition to say “hold on a minute” and reiterate its mission to make spectrum in the lower 12 GHz available for terrestrial 5G services.
Citing reports by Fierce and New Street Research, SpaceX said in a March 21 filing that Dish and RS Access, the latter which it described as “Michael Dell’s Personal Family Trust,” have “abandoned their quest to have the commission hand them new rights for high-powered terrestrial mobile services in the 12.2-12.7 GHz (12 GHz) band.”
But V. Noah Campbell, co-founder and CEO of RS Access, said that’s not so.
“The claims made by SpaceX in its most recent filing are unequivocally false. The proceeding remains open and the commission has not issued any definitive guidance,” Campbell said in a statement provided to Fierce. “RS Access is confident that the 12 GHz band can supercharge 5G deployment nationwide, and we will continue to work alongside a broad coalition of advocates to support unleashing its full potential.”
Jeff Blum, EVP of External and Legislative Affairs at Dish, reiterated Dish's interest in mobile and fixed services. "Dish believes there are significant opportunities to open up the 12 GHz band for terrestrial use – both for mobile 5G wireless and fixed wireless access – as it will help close the digital divide and increase competition. Simply stated, the status quo of the 12 GHz band is not in the public interest," he told Fierce.
The 5G for 12 GHz Coalition provided the following statement. “SpaceX continues attempting to distort the record on 12 GHz. The Coalition’s overall vision for the 12 GHz band – sharing it between satellite and terrestrial services – remains the same. We look forward to continuing our work with the FCC.”
Fixed vs. mobile
SpaceX stated that Dish and RS Access “are switching positions yet again, now asking for free rights for high-powered fixed services in the 12 GHz band,” and cited a March 13 New Street Research (NSR) report that provided analyst commentary on the current state of the 12 GHz proceeding in front of the FCC. That report was from an investor perspective and evaluated the implications for Dish, concluding that it didn’t appear in the near term that Dish would be able to use the spectrum for its own mobile services.
“While it may be able to eventually to use the spectrum for fixed terrestrial uses, it is far from certain how valuable that will be, given uncertainty about the power levels,” wrote NSR analyst Blair Levin. The report emphasized that NSR had not talked to anyone at the FCC about the topic but was basing the analysis on reading the record and having discussions with advocates on all sides.
SpaceX asserts in its latest filing that the FCC rejected high-powered fixed terrestrial services in the band when it authorized MVDDS – and only MVDDS – for additional fixed service operations.
SpaceX also cited the filings of “nearly one hundred thousand people” who submitted comments to the commission in the proceeding. The 5G for 12 GHz Coalition previously attributed that barrage of comments to a misinformation campaign staged by Starlink.
Interestingly, during Dish’s Q1 earnings conference call last May, Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen talked about using the 12 GHz band for fixed wireless.
“We're watching closely what T-Mobile and Verizon are doing,” he said, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript. “I think it's very creative in terms of what they're doing. I think there's other – maybe other ways to do it depending on where you are and the densities that you have. Obviously, one of the things that is now with the FCC and the rulemaking is 12 gigahertz which we think is an ideal frequency for that that could be – that you could get millions of customers in fixed wireless particularly in rural America. So we're hopeful the FCC will make some rulings on that in near order.”