WSJ: FCC Deals Setback to Dish Wireless Network Plans

Mojo Jojo

SatelliteGuys Pro
Original poster
Apr 19, 2009
FCC Deals Setback to Dish Wireless Network Plans -


FCC Deals Setback to Dish Wireless Network Plans[/h]
Dish Network Corp.'s hopes to start building a new wireless network have been dealt a setback by the Federal Communications Commission, which denied the satellite-TV provider's request for a needed waiver and opted instead for a formal deliberation that will take until the end of the year.

Dish needs FCC approval to use satellite spectrum to support a ground-based cellphone network and had hoped to receive a waiver this month. The FCC's decision isn't likely to doom Dish's plans but will push them back— something Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen warned last week would make the project riskier.
The FCC aims to conclude its so-called rule-making process by the end of the year after taking public comment on changing how those airwaves are used, people familiar with the matter said.

The decision to take a more deliberate approach comes after the commission came under fire for acting too hastily in another controversial case. The commission granted a waiver to network start-up LightSquared Inc., which later saw its plan unravel amid objections from the Defense Department that its network would interfere with Global Positioning System devices.

Dish said it was disappointed with the FCC's decision but said it would work with the commission to get the needed approvals. Mr. Ergen has said the company needs to package mobile wireless services with its pay-TV offerings to stay competitive with cable operators and phone companies that already can offer such bundles.
The FCC ultimately is expected to endorse Dish's use of the spectrum. In the commission's 2010 National Broadband Plan, the FCC said rules governing the swath of airwaves in question should be changed allow a ground-based wireless network.

"The Commission has been clear and consistent about its intent to remove regulatory barriers in this band through a rulemaking to unleash more spectrum for mobile broadband," an FCC spokesman said in a statement. "The rulemaking process will best serve the public interest and maximize the long-term value of the spectrum for the American economy."

Dish agreed to acquire the spectrum licenses last year, when it spent $2.8 billion buying satellite operators DBSD and TerreStar Networks out of bankruptcy court. The FCC approved the sale Friday.

The company, best known as a satellite-TV provider, holds a closely watched wild card in the wireless industry. Newcomers aspiring to build networks have had trouble getting traction against giants like AT&T Inc. and Verizon Wireless. But spectrum is a key commodity, especially as booming smartphone use strains mobile carriers' networks. Analysts have speculated that Dish's spectrum could command a high price if sold to AT&T or another carrier.

Mr. Ergen personally appealed to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski and other FCC officials in late February to approve waivers that would help Dish build a new, national high-speed wireless network.
Dish's proposed network wouldn't affect GPS devices, because its frequencies are far enough away to avoid problems. But AT&T and other wireless providers have complained that Dish's proposed network could cause interference with other wireless services. They have asked the FCC to hold off giving the satellite TV company the waivers until the agency completes broader, industry-wide rules for the airwaves.

FCC officials had appeared reluctant to grant waivers to Dish while fielding letters from Capitol Hill about why they had granted LightSquared a conditional go-ahead to build its network. Earlier this week, House Republicans on the Energy & Commerce Committee asked the FCC for internal documents about its LightSquared decision, and hearings are being planned.
Sounds positive to me. FCC would have been sued by the competition if they approved the wavier without hearing or could have had another fiasco like lightsqare. Same thing happened 10 -15 years ago with the DBS slots. They got sued, froze all future slots and it remains frozen today waiting new rules.
Here's Dish's response:

"Although we are disappointed that the FCC did not grant the integrated service and spare satellite waivers that DISH requested, we appreciate the cooperative spirit and diligent efforts of the Commission and its staff in reviewing our applications. We worked hard to demonstrate that the grant of those waivers was in the public interest, and we wish that we had been successful. We believe that the denial of those waivers will delay the advancement of some of President Obama's and the FCC's highest priorities -- namely freeing up new spectrum for commercial use and introducing new mobile broadband competition. As we review our options, we will continue working with the FCC on the forthcoming 2 GHz Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to achieve those goals as expeditiously as possible. DISH is committed to helping the Administration and the FCC solve the existing spectrum crunch, and DISH believes that new competition is particularly critical given the expanding world of bit caps and restrictive data plans. We expect to close the DBSD and TerreStar transactions as soon as practicable."

DISH Network - Investor Relations - 1.888.825.2557

Poor e-mail support from Dish?

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