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Comms chips

Qualcomm to Make Dish's Mobile Broadband Chip

Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH) and Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) are working on a dual-core 3G/Long Term Evolution (LTE) chipset that will also support satellite-based data links, part of Dish's attempt to build out its own wireless broadband network.

Dish is also investing "millions of dollars" in the project, a spokesman says. The companies aren't saying when the chip will be ready.

The idea is to add the satellite component to Qualcomm's Snapdragon S4 MSM8960, which already lets devices toggle between 3G and LTE mode. Qualcomm said the new satellite air interface is a 3G-based standard called Enhanced Geostationary Air Link (EGAL).

That chip will snap into "future Dish wireless devices" that can operate in both terrestrial and satellite modes in the 2GHz/AWS-4 bands.



Why this matters
Dish is evidently preparing for any outcome from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) , which is going to vote on a proposed rule that would let Dish apply its Mobile-Satellite Services (MSS) spectrum licenses to terrestrial-only services, without having to support satellite communications.

But the FCC isn't expected to vote until later this summer, so this Qualcomm chipset lets Dish hedge its bets

The technology partnership and costs demonstrate how difficult it is for a company to start a wireless network from scratch, Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. Inc. analyst Craig Moffett told Light Reading Cable via email. "One on hand, they get to take advantage of the newest technologies. But on the other, they have to grow an entirely new ecosystem around a new spectrum band. It's a fallacy that you can put a number on what it costs to build a network. The reality is that building a network is never done. This kind of investment is a gentle reminder of that."

Some analysts speculate that Dish might need to spend $5 billion or more to build its own wireless network, and that the proposed plan is merely a bluff to help jack up the value of its spectrum and help Dish forge partnerships with carriers such as AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and T-Mobile US Inc. .

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

AESerm 12/5/2012 | 5:30:36 PM
re: Qualcomm to Make Dish's Mobile Broadband Chip

At the Satellite2012 show earlier this year I got the sense that some operators who'd been following the official MSS policy didn't like this idea of a mid-course change; what this shows is that Dish is willing to make a show of--or maybe even spend millions--following the rules as they are, namely: that if you want to use this spectrum, you've got to deliver terrestrial and satellite based services. On the other hand, others argue that his MSS regime really is out of date...

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 5:30:35 PM
re: Qualcomm to Make Dish's Mobile Broadband Chip

I question whether Dish will go this alone, and I'm certainly not alone in that opinion, but they are definitely trying to show the FCC that they are making a good faith effort to use the spectrum. But even if the FCC doesn't allow them to use that spectrum for terrestrial-only , they'll at least have their bases covered with this. JB


 

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