5G and Beyond

Dish Wants FCC to Block Verizon's XO Buy Because of 5G Concerns

Dish has petitioned the FCC to block Verizon's $1.8 billion bid to buy XO Communications, claiming that the buy would give Verizon too much control over radio and fiber assets that are vital to deploying 5G in the US in the near future.

Under the current plan,Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) would gain access to XO Communications Inc. 's 20,000 intercity network and more fiber assets. It would also get leasing rights to the NextLink LMDS (28GHz) and 39GHz fixed wireless spectrum that XO holds with an option to buy by 2018.

Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH) petitions to the FCC that, with the deal, Verizon will gain access to spectrum that promises "to play central roles in 5G applications and hence will be important to the companies competing against Verizon in the commercial... 5G marketplace."

"Just as important, the transactions will eliminate current and potential competition between Verizon and XO in the mobile backhaul (both wireless and fiber), Internet transit, and enterprise and wholesale markets," the filing adds.

XO has 91 LMDS (28-31GHz) licenses, and 10 39GHz licenses, in the US, covering roughly 45% of the US population. Verizon has already said that it will start using the spectrum for a fixed wireless 5G pilot in 2017. (See Verizon Hits 1-Gig+ in 5G Trials, Eyes Early Applications.)

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"The LMDS [Local Multipoint Distribution Service] frequencies are among the most important next-frontier-spectrum for 5G technologies." DISH states. "Stated simply, if the lease arrangement goes forward, licensed millimeter wave ("mmWave") spectrum in a critical frequency range will be controlled almost exclusively by Verizon."

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has proposed opening up the LMDS band for mobile use, although that hasn't been cleared yet. This is part of a broader plan to open up frequencies above 24GHz for 5G usage. (See FCC Chair Wants to Take 5G Higher.)

"For the foregoing reasons, the Commission should set both applications for a hearing, and deny them," Dish says.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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