FCC Dishes Dirt, Talks Up 3.5 GHz

Dish Network’s proposal for a mobile telephone network would destroy the value of airwaves the government plans to auction for commercial use, the Federal Communications Commission said today.

Dish wants to use all the MSS frequencies it purchased from defunct satellite operators for nationwide terrestrial LTE service. But the FCC wants to auction the H block, which is adjacent to the Dish spectrum. That could cause mutual interference.

Dish calls the draft “significantly flawed”; adding years of delay and eliminating competition in an FCC filing this month (pdf).

Sprint’s filing with the FCC called for the FCC to shift Dish Network’s AWS-4 band up 5 MHz from 2000-2020 MHz to 2005-2025 MHz so their planned adjacent “H block” of PCS spectrum can be used for LTE. Sprint wants to use the entire 1990-2000 MHz block (two 5 MHz chunks). But that would adjoin Dish’s MSS spectrum and cause mutual interference.

The “H Block” would use 1915-1920 MHz and 1995-2000 MHz in the PCS band. Sprint-Nextel claims that if the FCC were to limit their proposed H Block to only small cell use, it would not likely bid on the spectrum. Dish has argued that a “full power” H Block would cause at least 25 percent of its uplink frequencies (2000-2020 MHz) to become unusable, a claim Sprint has said is erroneous. Sprint says it is open to hosting Dish with their Network Vision architecture – but only if Dish were bumped up 5 MHz (2005-2025 MHz).

Moving Dish to 2005-2025 would take out the “J Block”, so it would seem to be largely revenue neutral. Apparently, the FCC is willing to loose the lower J block and utilize the paired upper J block as a barrier for the unpaired AWS-3 spectrum block (at 2155-2175 MHz). It doesn’t seem like that big a deal, although the current arrangement is optimal for Dish. The satellite spectrum holder doesn’t have much time before an FCC decision, so it’s making its case loud and clear.

“In arguing that the commission should destroy the value of the H block, Dish is seeking to take a public asset potentially worth billions of dollars and turn it into a private windfall,” said Justin Cole, an FCC spokesman, reports Bloomberg.

“This is not windfall; it’s a venture where success is by no means assured,” said Bob Toevs, a Dish spokesman. “While we remain ready to work with the commission, we urge it to consider the sacrifices its current approach to the H block means for spectrum, jobs and investment.”

An ex parte filing submitted to the FCC last week (pdf) on behalf of the New America Foundation, Public Knowledge, and Free Press, who met as representatives of the Public Interest Spectrum Coalition, argued that “hobbling the AWS-4 licensee as a potential new market competitor seems far more likely to harm than to serve the public interest“.

Genachowski’s proposal awaits a vote by the five-member FCC.

If the FCC votes to allow terrestrial LTE for Dish, and requires them to move 5 MHz up (which seems likely), then the question is what will Dish do. Will they stay – teaming with an operator and content provider (like Google) — or will they go, selling the spectrum to AT&T.

Ericsson can deliver 223 Mbps on 40MHz of spectrum. AT&T and Verizon can’t touch it. They don’t have the greenfield spectrum.

Congress directed the FCC to auction the H block (Greg Walden loves to micro-manage), and by limiting Dish, the FCC can generate more revenue to help pay for a planned nationwide radio network for emergency workers, FirstNet.

In other news, the Commission will consider a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to broaden its initiatives in unleashing broadband spectrum, promoting technological innovation, and encouraging investment via the creation of a shared access broadband service in the 3550-3650 MHz band for small cell use.

According to the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology, some 1000 MHz of federal spectrum, especially in bands above 2.7 GHz, may be shared using White Space interrogation technology.

The Whitehouse PCAST spectrum report (pdf) promotes expanded spectrum-sharing technologies, originally developed for unused “white space” tv frequencies.

The 3550-3650 MHz band is mostly used by Navy radar. Using the techniques pioneered by White Space receivers, devices will be able to share the frequencies with the government if they incorporate geographic location information and interrogate data bases before they transmit.

The Wireless Innovation Alliance made a noble defense for unlicensed use of the band (like WiFi), saying, “We agree with PCAST that expanding on the TV White Space database approach holds immediate promise for opening the underutilized 3550-3650 MHz band for unlicensed devices and encourage the FCC and NTIA to make implementation a priority.”

According to the Wireless Innovation Alliance, one quarter of the world’s households and tens of millions of businesses have deployed Wi-Fi networks to deliver broadband Internet access. Wi-fi increases the economic value of fixed broadband connections by $99 billion a year.

The Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA) says the FCC should make the 3550-3650 megahertz band available through the same “licensed-light” regime as it did the 3650-3700 MHz band, which would allow wireless Internet service providers (WISPs) to use the frequencies.

Commercial carriers are not big on sharing. On AT&T’s Public Policy Blog, Joan Marsh, the operator’s vice president of federal regulatory, said, “While we should be considering all options to meet the country’s spectrum goals, including the sharing of federal spectrum with government users, it is imperative that we clear and reallocate government spectrum where practical.”

CTIA, the cellular industry association, said “the gold standard” for deployment of ubiquitous mobile broadband networks is cleared spectrum.

For them.

Related Dailywireless articles include; FCC Limits Dish on LTE Terrestrial Spectrum, Dish: On the Move, Dish and Sprint Battle over PCS band Extension, FCC Approves 2.3 GHz for AT&T, AT&T Likely to Get 2.3 GHz, Sprint’s Dish Compromise, Nexus 4 Deals for Voice/Data, MetroPCS Merges with T-Mobile USA, T-Mobile & MetroPCS: Spectrum Rich for LTE-A, T-Mobile USA Upgrades to LTE, T-Mobile Gets AWS Spectrum from Breakup, FirstNet: The Asymetrical Threat

Posted by Sam Churchill on .

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