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Spectrum Ruling Could Prove Risky for Dish

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner

Welcome to today's broadband and cable news roundup.

  • The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is close to creating new rules that will let Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH) offer a terrestrial-only wireless service, but they are expected to include a provision that will require Dish to shed some holdings to avoid interference with an adjacent PCS H Block that Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) has been eyeing for Long Term Evolution (LTE), reports The Wall Street Journal. That provision "would be a game changer for us" and make Dish's proposed wireless buildout plan "increasingly risky," Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen told the paper. Ergen has outlined a wide range of scenarios for Dish's spectrum, including partnerships with other carriers or an outright sale of those holdings. The purported FCC decision essentially places "a higher priority on ensuring Sprint has sufficient LTE spectrum" and moving ahead with an auction of the H block than the Commission has on "trusting Dish to become a new entrant in the wireless market," TMF Associates analyst Tim Farrar stated on his blog. (See Google & Dish Mull Mobile Connection and Dish May Seek Spectrum Sale .)

  • Bristol, Tenn., is joining the 1Gbit/s club and applying some additional pressure on Charter Communications Inc. as the city's electric company, Bristol Tennessee Essential Services (BTES), launches the speedy service to 33,000 area residences and businesses. BTES's 1Gbit/s GPON network is powered by Alcatel-Lucent (NYSE: ALU) 7342 ISAM FTTU optical line terminals and optical network terminals.

  • Vdio has launched a private beta test in the U.K. and U.S., and instead of bringing forth a subscription-based Netflix Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX) rival, the service appears to be taking on iTunes and Vudu with a transactional model for videos and TV shows, reports NewTeeVee. Vdio, a startup helmed by Skype Ltd. co-founder Janus Friis, describes itself as: "A better way to watch. Rent or buy movies and TV shows worth tuning in to." The landing page touts a mix of new titles such as Prometheus and older catalog fare such as Pulp Fiction and Monsters Inc..

  • Viggle Inc. has put up US$25 million in cash and 48.3 million shares to acquire GetGlue in a deal that combines two New York-based startups that are focused on social TV apps delivered via tablets and other secondary screens. The combined company will have nearly 4.5 million registered users and clearly hopes that the combo will bring enough scale to the category to attract more advertising dollars and programming partners. Viggle, which counts DirecTV Group Inc. (NYSE: DTV) as a customer and was launched in January, will also take on GetGlue's 34 employees. But the deal is not all rainbows and unicorns, as it's contingent on Viggle raising an additional $60 million in funding, says TechCrunch.

    — Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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    User Rank: Light Beer
    12/5/2012 | 5:17:27 PM
    re: Spectrum Ruling Could Prove Risky for Dish

    The FCC is in a tricky position with regard to Dish & the use of its satellite spectrum for terrestrial use. The commission doesn't want to be accused of not recognizing potential interference problems, as it was when it granted LightSquared a temporary waiver. But if it doesn't let Dish use all of its spectrum, Dish may decide to sell the spectrum to one of the major carriers (quite probably AT&T). If that occurs, the FCC could be accused of furthering a Verizon/ AT&T wireless duopoly & not doing enough to ensure wireless competition. 

    Jeff Baumgartner
    Jeff Baumgartner,
    User Rank: Light Beer
    12/5/2012 | 5:17:25 PM
    re: Spectrum Ruling Could Prove Risky for Dish

    This ruling would give Dish an out if it does indeed choose to  sell off its  spectrum.  Ergen's been saying they could do this, that or the other with its spectrum, but it seems that the notion that Dish had any true interest in building something completely on is a huge bluff, or at least wishful thinking. JB

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