DirecTV Partnering with Clearwire?

Posted by Sam Churchill on

DirecTV appears to be signaling an interest in partnering in some fashion with Clearwire, reports Fierce Wireless. DirecTV, in a recent filing, urged the FCC to require that the cable companies with a minority interest in Clearwire divest their holdings.

Representatives from DirecTV noted that the cable companies “neither intend to build their own wireless network nor view Clearwire as a ‘viable’ solution going forward.”

“Allowing these MSOs to continue to hold minority ownership and management interests in Clearwire despite their new arrangement with Verizon Wireless would enable them to hamper further development of Clearwire’s competing network and services, both by impeding new initiatives and by refusing to make additional investments,” DirecTV wrote.

“Third parties, in turn, will have less incentive to invest in or enter into strategic agreements with Clearwire, resulting in valuable spectrum remaining fallow.” Therefore, DirecTV wrote, the FCC should require the cable companies to divest their minority holdings in Clearwire within six months.

Clearwire CEO Erik Prusch said the company is still looking for potential partners, but was deliberately vague.

The main competitor for DirecTV is Dish Networks, which also has 40 Mhz of 2.1 GHz spectrum (but no infrastructure). T-Mobile has the infrastructure (for AWS), and might utilize the Dish frequencies, while AT&T lacks the AWS/2.1 GHz infrastructure (but arguably needs additional spectrum more than T-Mobile).

T-Mobile, meanwhile, told the FCC they need Verizon’s AWS spectrum to bring LTE to markets they couldn’t otherwise serve.

Although it’s pure speculation, AT&T and DirecTV could team up on Clearwire spectrum, which might also allow AT&T to offload iPhone 5 data as early as next year. Teaming with Dish might mean a 3-4 year delay for AT&T, until infrastructure gets built and devices support the new spectrum.

Both DirecTV and Dish have broadband internet satellites, but both require a south-facing view of the sky. It’s better suited for rural users. Any “wireless cable” play, using terrestrial towers, seems unlikely but may not be out of the question. Apple and DirecTV/Clear might utilize 40 MHz for on-demand. Same with Google and Dish/T-Mobile.

Clearwire intends to launch 5,000 TDD-LTE cell sites by June 2013, but much of its future right now is tied to Sprint, where it gets more than 80% of its subscribers. If Sprint can successfully offload their PCS-based FD-LTE network onto Clear’s TD-LTE network (at 2.6 GHz), then Clear should be okay. But refarming their 850 MHz Nextel spectrum would give Sprint better LTE coverage.

Clearwire, therefore, might benefit from another large wholesale partner like DirecTV, in addition to their flotilla of mobile virtual operators. Dish and T-Mobile would make a formidable competitor, especially if they teamed with Google or Amazon. Driving data connection costs down is in the interest of Apple, Amazon, Google and Microsoft.

Theoretically, it might work for both operators and consumers. AT&T/Verizon/Sprint get LTE on 700/800 MHz. T-Mobile and Dish get AWS/Dish spectrum for large LTE growth, and Clearwire’s 2.6 GHz becomes the urban offload band.

Related Dailywireless articles include; Aero Prevails, FCC to Okay Verizon/Cable Spectrum Buy, T-Mobile Gets AWS Spectrum from Breakup, Verizon Buying Nationwide AWS Spectrum from Cable, 300 MHz Expected from Refarming and TV Spectrum, AT&T Wants 2.3 GHz for LTE and T-Mobile USA Upgrades to LTE, T-Mobile and MetroPCS Petition FCC for Dish Spectrum, Cable MSO’s Create “CableWiFi” Network, Time Warner Cable Beams Muni WiFi, AT&T: Free WiFi (with Video Ads) and Carrier WiFi Moves Ahead

Posted by Sam Churchill on Monday, July 30th, 2012 at 9:06 am .

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