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Dish Network asked the FCC to consolidate the transfer of satellite licenses that came with Dish’s purchase of TerreStar and DBSD (ICO) in 2011 and asked for a waiver to use the combined spectrum to offer terrestrial-only service (pdf).

“Allowing TerreStar and Dish to provide single-mode terrestrial terminals to customers who have no need for satellite functions will achieve significant public benefits, and will do so by better serving the important, underlying policy,” Dish told the FCC.

Dish said it is prepared to work with the FCC “to develop a reasonable, attainable buildout schedule keyed to commercial availability of the LTE-Advanced standard.”

According to the filing, “the combination of the two 2 GHz MSS spectrum assignments helps to mitigate the bandwidth constraints that have limited the utility of these bands for broadband services”. DISH said they had adequate financial, technical, and operational resources and demonstrated ability to deliver on the broadband potential of these spectrum bands.

The FCC granted LightSquared a waiver for its hybrid broadband service. Dish points out that LightSquared will have 59 MHz of spectrum, while combining its DBSD and TerreStar spectrum would only give it 40 MHz, allowing it to compete “to some extent” with incumbents.

Dish said its 2 GHz S-Band spectrum “will not raise the technical issues that have hampered the use of the MSS L-Band, such as the interleaving of the operators’ assignments and the severe interference claimed by systems operating in adjacent spectrum.”

DISH plans to deploy an MSS/ATC system using the full 40 MHz of MSS spectrum with in-orbit active and spare capacity on TerreStar’s T-1 satellite (currently positioned at 111º W.L.) and DBSD’s G-1 satellite (currently positioned at 92.85º W.L). As a result, post-transaction, DISH will have two state-of-the-art satellites in orbit and capable of providing MSS service in the S-Band over all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Sprint has not yet announced official support for TD-LTE, but the company is widely expected to make an official announcement in early October.

LTE Advanced expands the effective coverage of small cells, or Heterogeneous Networks (HetNets), as Qualcomm calls them. Dish networks says LTE-Advanced with NetNet support is a key advantage of the architecture.

Consultant Tim Farrar says, “With the cable companies apparently aligning themselves with Sprint, it looks very much like DISH will now partner with MetroPCS and perhaps even DirecTV and/or Leap as well.

But Dish will have to build out 40,000 cellular towers. It makes more sense for Dish to team with a national provider like Sprint, AT&T, Verizon or T-Mobile. They already have infrastructure in place.

The GENUS smartphone, developed by TerreStar, is a “quad-band” device capable of MSS in the 2 GHz band, in addition to multi-band communication on terrestrial GSM networks, using the licensed 800, 900, 1800, and 1900 MHz mobile bands.

The GENUS today does not utilize the 2 GHz MSS band for terrestrial service, instead relying on AT&T’S existing terrestrial networks. A future iteration may use TerreStar’s frequencies for terrestrial TD-LTE.

If Dish wanted a partner, AT&T might be a good one. They already have the phone.

Carrier aggregation with Qualcomm’s 700MHz channels might provide rural coverage or faster downloads. Still, it’s hard to suppress a snicker over AT&T’s eagerness to “overpay” for T-Mobile, when so many options were available to them. AT&T, of course, is sitting on more than $10 Billion in (currently unused) AWS and 700MHz spectrum. Adding Dish/TerreStar as a partner could be the last straw for regulators.

This is a new terrestrial LTE network. There are plenty of wild cards that may come into play. They include Apple, Google, Microsoft or Amazon, perhaps in combination with an existing carrier or media company. It should be quite a battle.

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