Noting the need for spectrum to support 5G, Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH) and 10 other members of the MVDDS 5G Coalition are asking the FCC to initiate a rulemaking proceeding designed to permit MVDDS licensees to use their 12.2-12.7 GHz spectrum to provide 2-way mobile broadband services.
"This 500 MHz of contiguous spectrum is ideally suited for 5G deployments, yet MVDDS licensees are hamstrung in their ability to provide 5G services by outdated Commission rules that impose unnecessarily restrictive technical and operational limitations," the April 26 petition for rulemaking states. "The Commission should act now to modernize these rules to enable sharing in the 12.2-12.7 GHz band between incumbent direct-to-home satellite services and mobile broadband services."
Indeed, the FCC issued a public notice on May 9 saying that interested parties may file statements opposing or supporting the MVDDS Petition for Rulemaking within 30 days.
Similar to LMDS, the MVDDS spectrum has a long history. In 2000, the FCC initiated an order creating the MVDDS service in the 12.2-12.7 GHz band, followed by the adoption of technical rules for the new service two years later.
The petition states that the 12.2-12.7 GHz band is ideally suited to be made available for increased sharing with existing direct broadcast services (DBS) to allow use for new 5G services. Citing a 4G Americas report, the filing says 5G systems are expected to be used in areas of localized demand, where high system capacity in dense deployments will be needed to support very high data rates. "Spectrum bands above 6 GHz meet these needs because they offer spectrum blocks of sufficient size – several hundred MHz or more – to provide high peak data rates," the filing notes. "MVDDS spectrum squarely fits the bill: It offers 500 MHz of contiguous, high-band spectrum above 6 GHz," as well as meeting other criteria.
The problem has been that there have been prohibitions on using MVDDS spectrum for 2-way communications and offering mobile service, as well as stringent power limitations and "extensive and exhaustive" coordination procedures. Therefore, the petitioners argue, the commission should update the MVDDS technical rules to enable 5G services while safeguarding DBS operations.
While a lot of attention has focused on bands above 24 GHz, which is the focus of the FCC's Spectrum Frontiers proceeding, AT&T (NYSE: T) recently revealed that it planned to extend its lab testing to an outdoor test in Austin, Texas, this summer, starting with 15 GHz tests. SVP of Wireless Network Architecture and Design Tom Keathley explained they would start with 15 GHz tests and then move to 28 GHz, mainly because that's what they could get to start with; the 28 equipment wasn't expected to be available until later this year and they didn't want to wait. It's not known, however, how AT&T is going to react to the Dish MVDDS petition now that DirecTV is part of AT&T.
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As Dish's TV business struggles, company's spectrum valued at just $0.80/MHz-POP