Dish Network Corp. has 40MHz of wireless spectrum it can now call its own, but its grand plan to build a Long Term Evolution (LTE) network remains in a holding pattern.
Dish got its mitts on a swath of 2GHz spectrum on Monday after closing its $2.8 billion acquisitions of TerresStar Networks Inc. and DBSD North America. Dish had sought a waiver that would let it use the spectrum solely
for cellphones, but rather than granting a one-off waiver, the
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is working to set new
rules that would permanently approve the use of Mobile Satellite Service (MSS)
spectrum for terrestrial use by Dish or any other company that happens to have
that type of spectrum. But that process could take a year.
Dish has pledged to work with the FCC, but said it will, in the meantime, start up an effort to boost the performance and capabilities of handsets that use terrestrial and satellite links as the company explores "its options for a broader market entry."
Why this matters
Dish has argued that delays could scuttle its LTE buildout plan, though there's speculation that the company is bluffing about its intention to go it alone. Dish, for now, maintains that all options for its spectrum are on the table, including a possible sale. AT&T Inc. and T-Mobile USA are among those that could be interested in it.
BTIG Research analyst Walter Piecyk also doubts Dish will build a new network from scratch. "If [Dish Chairman Charlie] Ergen gets a great offer on his spectrum or company, he would have to consider it," he tells Light Reading Cable. "Alternatively, if he needs broadband to supplement his pay-TV services, he can partner to build out."
Catch up on Dish's wireless drama.
â€” Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable