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. .
- Dish Chairman Rules Out More Spectrum Buys
- Dish Stashing Cash for Its 4G Run
- FCC Keeps Dish Spectrum Plan Alive
- Dish's LTE Dreams Inch Toward Reality
— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable