Dish Clarifies LTE-Advanced Plan

Posted by Sam Churchill on

Dish Network, in its filing with the FCC this week, has argued against the restrictions that AT&T Mobility wants to impose on Dish’s spectrum licenses, reports Fierce Wireless.

Dish also clarified elements of its nationwide LTE Advanced plan. Dish wants to use 40 Mhz of spectrum in the 2.1 GHz MSS (satellite phone) band that it acquired when it bought assets from bankrupt ICO (DBSD) and TerreStar.

AT&T requests LightSquared-like buildout conditions on DISH’s proposed 2 GHz ancillary terrestrial component (“ATC”) network. AT&T also wants conditions on DISH’s 700 MHz spectrum.

Dish, in its filing says the FCC should reject both of AT&T’s requests to reign in their terrestrial broadband plan.

Building a network before LTE Advanced devices are widely available would necessitate the use of an earlier standard, followed by a migration to LTE Advanced. Once the standard is complete, there will be a new development cycle for network infrastructure, chipsets, and devices, which will be a multi-year effort to reach widespread availability of a terrestrial S-Band ecosystem sometime in 2015.

Dish also rejected AT&T’s concerns about their use of 700 MHz:

The request for an interference-protection condition relating to DISH’s potential use of the 700 MHz E-Block licenses held by its affiliate, Manifest Wireless LLC (“Manifest”), is extraneous to the current proceedings. A grant of DISH’s applications concerning 2 GHz spectrum would have no effect on any issues relating to a separate block of 700 MHz spectrum.

AT&T specifically relies on the Applicants’ statement that these 700 MHz licenses may be used to “enhance the effectiveness and competitiveness of any mobile broadband services.” But that mere future possibility does not make this an appropriate venue for imposing conditions on a band completely outside the current proceeding.

Dish is seeking the FCC’s approval to build a nationwide LTE Advanced network from scratch. It will use the 40 MHz of S-band spectrum in the 2 GHz range that it purchased from bankrupt TerreStar Networks and DBSD North America.

Dish Network apparently plans to use a 2×20 MHz configuration (20MHz up and 20MHz down), with potential speeds of over 600 Mbps. That’s double the bandwidth of Verizons 2 X 10MHz LTE system. LTE-Advanced features advanced modulation and MIMO antenna techniques to improve coverage and speed.

Sprint Nextel has urged the FCC to approve Dish’s spectrum transfer request. Sprint likely sees Dish as their Plan “B” if the similar nationwide LTE network proposal from Lightsquared gets shot down, due to GPS interference issues.

AT&T argued that Dish should be held to the same terrestrial buildout targets that the FCC imposed on LightSquared: at least 100 million POPs within 33 months, 145 million POPs within 45 months and 260 million POPs within 69 months.

Dish argues that LTE-Advanced is not ready. But Sprint-Clearwire has stated that it expects to be incorporating LTE-A technology on its 2.6 GHz band, later this year.

Clearwire will apparently use their current WiMAX spectrum which uses 30 Mhz (using a different 10 MHz band on each sector). LTE-A will enable them to reapportion the spectrum to a 20/10 MHz split, with 20 MHz going to LTE (using the same 20 MHz on each sector). Later, it will add a new 20 MHz chunk for LTE (40 MHz total) using carrier aggregation techniques that are available with LTE-Advanced.

A buildout of Dish Networks might be expedited with a T-Mobile USA partnership, since T-Mobile is using the adjoining AWS band. While it’s just speculation, T-Mobile’s AWS antennas (tuned for 1.7/2.1 GHz) may also work for the Dish Network’s MSS spectrum (2.0/2.18 GHz). That separation may also minimize interference issues.

A Dish/T-Mobile partnership would give T-Mobile access to some 40 MHz of nation-wide spectrum for LTE and save everybody time and money. AT&T and Sprint would have to build the network from scratch. A partnership would keep Dish in the game through Blockbuster and satellite content deals.

Sprint doesn’t use the AWS band. Sprint’s PCS antennas, tuned for 1.9 GHz, might be a stretch for Dish at 2.1 GHz. Likewise on Clearwire’s 2.6 GHz antennas.

One scenario might be to add Dish’s basestation electronics to T-Mobile’s facilities. Later, perhaps, T-Mobile could physically move their AWS/Dish antennas to Sprint towers for hosting.

A possible Dish/T-Mobile merger or a Dish/Sprint merger will also take time to clear. It could be a complex deal, with a number of high-tech and content partners. It’s also assuming that the FCC WILL grant Dish the right to use terrestrial-only phones, as it has for Lightsquared. That hasn’t happened yet.

Dish seems unlikely to go it alone. They have stated a preference for a voice partner. It appears increasingly likely that will be T-Mobile or Sprint. AT&T would have to pay top dollar for Dish, pay another $5 billion to construct the network and delay service for the iPhone5.

The LAST thing Randall Stephenson wants to be is a MVNO on Sprint – but buying spectrum from Clear may be exactly what AT&T does. The magic of the iPhone.

See Dailywireless: Sprint Gives Lightsquared 6 Weeks, AT&T Competitors: No 700MHz Roaming, Dish: Show Me the Money!, Dish LTE-Advanced Called “Ollo”, Dish Talks Up Terrestrial LTE, ViaSat-1 Launched, Charlie Ergen’s Spectacular Triple Play, Charlie’s Big Play, EchoStar Closes $2B Hughes Deal, Lightsquared: FCC Will Rule by Year End, Lightsquared: A Hardware Solution, Lightsquared Interference: No Immediate Fix?, AT&T: On the Couch, Verizon Buying Nationwide AWS Spectrum from Cable, Verizon-Cable Deal: Too Cozy?, Cross Marketing of Verizon & Cable Begins, iBooks: Cellular’s Big Bang?

Posted by Sam Churchill on Friday, February 3rd, 2012 at 10:04 am .

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