Light Reading

FCC Could Blow Up Dish's LTE Plan

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner

Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH) Chairman Charlie Ergen likes his chances of turning the company's Long Term Evolution (LTE) plan into a successful business, but warns that the fate of it rests in the hands of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as the agency decides whether to grant Dish an all-important waiver for its wireless spectrum.

Ergen, speaking on Thursday's earnings call, said Dish is eager to build an LTE network on its own or with partners, but said it would have to look at all other options, including a sale of that spectrum, if the FCC doesn't award the waiver or delays it by putting the matter through a formal rulemaking process. The FCC's self-imposed 180-day window on the decision closes on March 12, he added.

Dish wants to build an LTE network based on spectrum it's in line to acquire via its acquisitions of TerreStar Networks and DBSD North America Inc., but needs a waiver that would relieve a requirement that the spectrum is used on phones that support both land and satellite connections. (See Charlie Ergen's Spectrum Grab Dish Sizing Up Mobile Broadband Service , Dish's LTE Dreams Inch Toward Reality and Dish: This Year's LightSquared?)

The next couple of weeks will determine "whether we are in or out," said Ergen, who's known for his prowess at the poker table. "You have to be in the game, and we're not in the game right now."

And the waiver could prove vital to Dish's long-term vision as its core video service struggles to grow. The company believes a mobile broadband play will let it create a package of voice, video and data products that customers can use at home or on the go. (See Dish Subs Back in Black, But for How Long? )

Wireless is a "key, even transformative, strategy for us," Ergen said, giving Dish's new broadband wireless plan an "80 percent chance of being successful." But the FCC's finger is on the "self-destruct button," he added, comparing the situation to when Dish's satellite TV dreams rested on the successful launch of a Chinese-made rocket in the mid-1990s. "The waiver is a lot like that Chinese rocket," he said.

Ergen added that Dish needs that waiver as soon as possible because it will need lead time to develop products that can use the spectrum. But it's in a holding pattern until the FCC acts.

And he's confident that Dish's plan meets the public interest for a waiver, painting his company as a "disruptive" force against the dominance of AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Verizon Wireless , which recently struck service bundling and spectrum deals with four major U.S. cable operators.

Ergen remains hopeful that the FCC will grant the waiver, holding that the spectrum it intends to use has "very little interference issues," and avoid what has stymied LightSquared 's plans. (See FCC Moves to Block LightSquared .)

But he joked about his poor track record with the feds. "I'd go broke betting on Washington. I'm about 0 for 100 in Washington," he said. Ergen then reflected for a moment and said the situation reminded him of a line in Dumb and Dumber. "I think there's a chance."

Okay, it wasn't a spot-on recital of the line, but here's the scene Ergen was summoning:

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

(4)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:41:36 PM
re: FCC Could Blow Up Dish's LTE Plan

Interesting that Dish wants waiver from the requirement that phones support both LTE and satellie network. Lightsquared's integrated network is intended to do just that. So what's interesting is that if after FCC put the brakes on the Lightsquared network (citing interference with some GPS devices), FCC grants Dish the waiver.

Jeff Baumgartner
Jeff Baumgartner,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:41:34 PM
re: FCC Could Blow Up Dish's LTE Plan

yeah, Lightsquared will flip out if Dish gets it and they don't, though there's no indication that Dish has the GPS interference issues that has caused so much trouble for Lightsquared.   But looks like Charlie's more worried about the spectre of a notice of proposed rulemaking from the FCC that would slow things down. JB

User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:41:32 PM
re: FCC Could Blow Up Dish's LTE Plan

My understanding is that the Dish spectrum was earmarked up front to support both terrestrial and satellite service. Dish is just trying to ditch the satellite requirement.

LightSquared's spectrum, on the other hand, was originally earmarked only for satellite use.

So I don't see it as a big issue if the FCC gives Dish a pass on the satellite component.

User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:41:30 PM
re: FCC Could Blow Up Dish's LTE Plan

The Dish spectrum is right next to Sprint's. Both are terrestrial, so the strong terrestrial signal swamping out a very weak satellite signal issue that occurs with GPS doesn't apply. Nevertheless, Sprint sued to prevent Dish from getting this spectrum. They settled the lawsuit.

From The Founder
The comms industry is rallying to the cause of open, independent interoperability testing.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
CLOUD / MANAGED SERVICES: Prepping Ethernet for the Cloud
Moderator: Ray LeMaistre Panelists: Jeremy Bye, Leonard Sheahan
LRTV Interviews
AT&T's Chiosi on the Potential of Open Source

10|6|15   |   06:27   |   (0) comments

AT&T Distinguished Network Architect Margaret T. Chiosi talks to Light Reading's Carol Wilson about the potential for open source technology to liberate communications service providers.
LRTV Interviews
Network Security in a Gigabit World

10|6|15   |   05:52   |   (0) comments

Masergy's James Harrison talks about some of the network security and data center issues network operators need to consider as they expand their broadband services portfolios.
LRTV Documentaries
Telefónica: In Search of Virtual Simplicity

10|5|15   |   07:30   |   (0) comments

Francisco-Javier Ramon Salguero, head of Telefónica's NFV initiative, admits virtualization initially means greater complexity, but with the right abstraction layer, it is possible to create a services-driven network architecture. He explains how Telefónica's current trials and initiatives are aimed at doing that, and what his company and other carriers need to ...
LRTV Interviews
Gigabit Europe Takeaways

10|5|15   |   03:47   |   (0) comments

Participants from the inaugural Gigabit Europe event in Munich share their key takeaways from the conference.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
Intel Urges Women to Take Advantage of Their Seat at the Table

10|5|15   |   4:27   |   (1) comment

Have inclusive and constructive conversations, attach a bigger meaning to your work and get involved in the cause, Intel's Monique Hayward advises women in comms.
LRTV Interviews
BT Updates on Plans

10|2|15   |   03:16   |   (2) comments

Peter Bell, CIO at Openreach, the access network division at UK incumbent BT, provides an update on the operator's trials and how Openreach is planning to deploy the broadband technology in its street cabinets.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Sonus Shakes Up SD-WAN

10|2|15   |   7:22   |   (0) comments

Sonus CTO Kevin Riley sat down with Light Reading to discuss the trajectory of the company, its SDN ambitions and why Sonus is taking a market-disruptive approve to SD-WAN.
LRTV Interviews
CityFibre's Gigabit Vision

10|1|15   |   03:18   |   (1) comment

Mark Collins, director of Strategy & Public Affairs at competitive UK city network operator CityFibre, talks about his company's plans to help build Gigabit Cities.
Telecom Innovators Video Showcase
Automate, Scale & Create With Juniper's vCPE Solution

10|1|15   |   6:34   |   (0) comments

Join Kireeti Kompella, Juniper Networks CTO, and Steve Saunders, Light Reading Founder and CEO, as they discuss Juniper Networks' approach to NFV showcased with a turnkey vCPE solution, which demonstrates how service providers can use automation to rapidly deploy services.
LRTV Interviews
Gigabit Europe: Day 1 Takeaways

9|29|15   |   05:47   |   (5) comments

Light Reading's Ray Le Maistre and Iain Morris sup a beer and discuss some of the key takeaways from the first day of Gigabit Europe 2015.
LRTV Interviews
Gigabit in Europe

9|29|15   |   04:24   |   (0) comments

At the Gigabit Europe 2015 event in Munich, Heavy Reading's Graham Finnie talks about the availability of gigabit broadband in Europe.
Women in Comms Introduction Videos
AT&T's Band of Women

9|28|15   |   4:36   |   (0) comments

Brooks McCorcle, the president of AT&T's partner solutions divisions and a mathematician by trade, shares stats on AT&T's diversity and advice on how to create your own band of women at work.
Upcoming Live Events
October 14-15, 2015, New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, New Orleans, LA
November 5, 2015, Hilton Santa Clara, Santa Clara, CA
November 17, 2015, Santa Clara, California
December 1, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
December 2, 2015, The Westin Times Square, New York City
All Upcoming Live Events
Communication service providers realize that an ICT transformation is critical to their long-term survival, but most haven't yet committed to making it happen.
Hot Topics
Verizon's Go90 Is Live – Will Anyone Watch?
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 10/1/2015
Eurobites: Dunroamin'
Paul Rainford, Assistant Editor, Europe, 10/2/2015
McKinsey: Women Less Likely to Advance at Work
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 10/1/2015
Sprint to Cut Up to $2.5B in 6 Months
Sarah Thomas, Editorial Operations Director, 10/2/2015
TiVo Takes Aim With Bolt
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 9/30/2015
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
Webinar Archive
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
With so many new and exciting communications technologies now under development, it's easy to get caught up in the industry's escalating hype cycle. That's why the ...
Last week saw a big day in the 15-year history of Light Reading when Editor-in-Chief Ray Le Maistre and I were invited to interview the Deputy Chairman and Rotating ...
Cats with Phones
Hold My Calls, Indefinitely Click Here