Cablevision's OMGFAST broadband service bites the dust

Cablevision's short-lived OMGFAST foray into fixed wireless broadband service--which relied upon licenses the company sold to, and then leased back from, Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH)--is coming to an end next month.

Our sister publication FierceCable reported that an outgoing message on the OMGFAST customer line indicates the wireless Internet and telephone service will be discontinued in 19 Florida markets on or after Aug. 19, including Boca Raton, Ft. Lauderdale, Hollywood, Lauderdale Lakes, Miami Gardens, and Miramar. The product was available to 90,000 homes in Broward and Palm Beach counties and delivered data speeds of up to 50 Mbps.

Cablevision launched the $29.95 monthly Internet service one year ago, using Multichannel Video and Data Distribution (MVDDS) spectrum that it acquired through an FCC auction in 2004.

However, Cablevision sold all 500 MHz of its MVDDS spectrum, which covered 150 million people in 45 U.S. metropolitan areas, to Dish last fall for $80 million. The deal, which made Dish the nation's largest MVDDS spectrum holder, came about as part of a total $700 million settlement of a breach-of-contract lawsuit that Cablevision and former subsidiary AMC Networks had been waging against Dish.

Since the sale, Cablevision had been leasing the spectrum licenses from Dish in order to operate OMGFAST.

OMGFAST had about 3,000 customers in February 2013, according to Multichannel News. The news outlet cited an October 2012 report from telecommunications analyst Craig Moffet, who suggested at the time that Cablevision may have built out OMGFAST as a way to hold onto its MVDDS spectrum licenses by meeting minimum buildout requirements mandated by the FCC. The company was required to show "substantial service" using the spectrum by September 2014.

Dish has not said what it intends to do with the MVDDS spectrum it holds, though analysts have noted it is suitable for backhaul and fixed broadband use. According to the FCC, MVDDS licensees "may use spectrum in the 12.2-12.7 GHz band for any digital fixed non-broadcast service including one-way direct-to-home/office wireless service."

In May, Dish announced a deal with Virginia-based regional carrier nTelos to develop a fixed wireless broadband service that some thought might be based on upon the MVDDS spectrum. However, Dish recently confirmed that it completed a test of an LTE fixed broadband service using Telos' 2.5 GHz BRS spectrum.

For more:
- see this FierceCable article
- see this Multichannel News article

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