Plan “C” for Dish?

Satellite consultant Tim Farrar has invented an interesting scenario for the 40 MHz of Dish spectrum that Charlie Ergen now controls. Last week DISH raised another $1.5B in a debt offering, “to be used for general corporate purposes, which may include spectrum-related strategic transactions”.

I’ve wondered if DISH has many options left other than to sell to AT&T, but it now appears that Ergen may have other plans, which are likely to be revealed within the next three weeks.

DISH could propose in mid January that the AWS-4 uplink spectrum is instead converted to downlink spectrum (in line with a suggestion made by the FCC back in March), and LightSquared’s uplink spectrum would be used to provide an alternative uplink.

That would be logical, because it will be years before LightSquared is able to use its L-band downlinks, and the 1675-80MHz band is unlikely to be given away to LightSquared for nothing (as opposed to being auctioned).

It would also make the full 20MHz of AWS-4 uplink spectrum usable for downlinks, and make an H-block counterbid by DISH far more plausible, because the H-block downlink (1995-2000MHz) could be combined with the AWS-4 spectrum between 2000-2020MHz, putting Sprint under further pressure.

The FCC ruled on December 11, 2012 that Dish could use their 40 MHz of satellite spectrum for terrestrial LTE.

The FCC has scheduled a Jan. 4 deadline for receiving any petitions regarding the SoftBank-Sprint deal, but DISH has requested a three-week postponement of that deadline and asked, “Is it in the public interest for a foreign company to control more spectrum below 3 GHz than any one other company in the United States?”

Farrar figures Dish’s MSS licensee might be altered to grant access to Lightsquared’s 1695-1710MHz band (avoiding proximity to GPS) and be paired with their 2180-2200MHz as an AWS extension band.

Currently, Dish plans to use 2000-2020 MHz for the terrestrial uplink (phone to tower) on AWS-4 and 2180-2200 MHz for the downlink. The TerreStar/ICO satellites uses similar uplink and downlink frequencies. But Dish’s power has been limited between 2000-2005 MHz to avoid potential interference to the adjacent “H Block”, that will be auctioned next year.

The giant satellites are operational. They just don’t have enough business to provide satphone service over the United States. They represent a CAPEX of over $1B and a real asset for organizations like FirstNet.

Lightsquared’s existing L-band (1.6 GHz) geosynchronous satellite (Skyterra-1) or Dish’s existing 2.1 GHz geosynchronous satellite can’t change their uplink and downlink frequencies.

What’s Tim Farrar smoking? Would the satellites be taken out of service and moved to another continent? Is this convoluted intrigue or perceptive analysis? Beats me. It seems just as likely that SeaLaunch with financing from Semion Mogilevich and MTS (Sistema Group) will make Dish an offer they can’t refuse.

Dish Network has 12 million satellite TV receivers, a fixed broadband satellite, and now 40 MHz of terrestrial 2.1 GHz that can be used for LTE clear across the United States.

Maybe Dish subscribers could integrate an outdoor LTE relay node on their satellite receivers – with discounted mobile service. Most LTE networks are deployed in a single frequency reuse configuration, which means that a single carrier frequency is reused in all cells of the network (pdf), but LTE-Advanced can use different COFDMA slots on the same frequency to avoid interference and incorporate a backhaul channel.

One thing’s certain — Charlie is dealing. It’s the hottest game in town.

Related Dailywireless articles include; FCC Approves Dish Spectrum for Terrestrial LTE, 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, Virgin Mobile Wants Russian MVNO Deal, Dish LTE-Advanced Called “Ollo”, Clearwire Cuts TD-LTE Deployment, Dish Talks Up Terrestrial LTE, Charlie Ergen’s Spectacular Triple Play, Charlie’s Big Play, EchoStar Closes $2B Hughes Deal, Broadband Satellites: Black Hole?, Aero Prevails, Dish Turns On Satellite Broadband, EchoStar XVII Broadband Satellite Launched, Hughes/EchoStar: Broadband Satellite Prepared for Launch, ViaSat Announces Commercial Satellite Operation

Posted by Sam Churchill on .

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