Dish Won’t Bid on H Block Spectrum

Dish Network has indicated it does not plan to “meaningfully participate” in the FCC’s upcoming auction of 1900 MHz PCS H Block spectrum, reports Fierce Wireless.

In a filing with the FCC (pdf), Dish explained several of its positions on current FCC agenda items, including the band plan related to planned incentive auctions of 600 MHz broadcast spectrum and 700 MHz interoperability.

Sprint is currently offering FD-LTE in the PCS “G” block (1910-1915/1990-1995 MHz). But it’s only 2 x 5 MHz wide. Sprint wants to buy the adjoining “H” block so it can have 2 x 10MHz (1910-1920 / 1990-2000).

It’s controversial because the “H block” abuts Dish’s MSS spectrum and could cause mutual interference. Dish, apparently, is resigned to working with whoever is the owner of the spectrum to solve the potential issue.

The FCC has said that it could be ready to auction the H Block as soon as January 2014. The H Block is part of 65 MHz of spectrum Congress mandated the FCC to auction by February 2015.

Sprint plans to begin deploying FD-LTE on its refarmed 800 MHz (Nextel) spectrum in the late third quarter and will be deploying 800 MHz LTE throughout next year, according to an FCC filing. Sprint says it plans to deploy Clearwire’s 2.5 GHz spectrum on all 38,000 of its planned Network Vision sites and even more sites than that in a nationwide rollout.

That may indicate that Sprint may pass on investing an estimated $1B for H-block spectrum when it has both 800 MHz and more 2.6 GHz towers to take up the slack.

Sprint said it remains on track to cover 200 million POPs with LTE by year-end. Verizon Wireless now covers 301 million POPs with LTE. By the end of the year, AT&T Mobility plans to cover 270 million POPs with LTE and T-Mobile US plans to cover at least 200 million POPs with LTE.

LTE service for T-Mobile US will expand to 2×10 MHz in the vast majority of the major markets across the United States by year-end, the company said. The AWS band (1.7/2.1 GHz) it has traditionally used for HSPA+ will eventually become an exclusive LTE band.

Both ATT and Verizon currently use 700 MHz almost exclusively for their LTE service but capacity is constrained since the towers cover larger areas. Verizon will add LTE service on the AWS band, thanks to their spectrum purchase from cable’s SpectrumCo. AT&T’s LTE spectrum is much more scattered, divided between pockets of AWS and 2.3 GHz.

LTE spectrum worldwide is primarily concentrated in 700-800 MHz, 1.8 GHz, and 2.6 GHz bands. Apple’s iPhone will undoubtedly support 2.6 GHz (for China Mobile), so it may follow that Sprint would no longer need “special favors” from Apple to support their unique PCS extension in the G and H bands.

Posted by Sam Churchill on .

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