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Dish Network details Terrestar LTE plan

Tue, 08/23/2011 - 8:15am
Maisie Ramsay, Wireless Week

Dish Network wants the FCC to let it use Terrestar's satellite spectrum to roll out LTE-Advanced, even though the standard isn't ready yet.

The broadcast company released new details of its plans for Terrestar's spectrum in an application to transfer its DBSD S-Band licenses filed with the FCC yesterday. Dish bought the bankrupt satellite communications provider in July.

Dish wants the FCC to allow it to deploy both satellite and land-based mobile broadband services in the band. In exchange, the company will build a mobile broadband network.

The proposed terrestrial-only LTE services would require the FCC to grant a waiver similar to one given to LightSquared.

"Based on the projected availability of the LTE Advanced standard and related technology, and assuming that DISH obtains all of the flexibility requested in this Application, DISH is prepared to work with the Commission to develop a reasonable, attainable buildout schedule keyed to commercial availability of the LTE Advanced standard," the company said in the documents.

Few details were provided on the timing of the proposed network. The LTE Advanced standard has yet to be ratified, and devices compatible with the technology won't be available for years.

Dish said the timing of its deployment would be "consistent with FCC precedent and based on the buildout principles established in the Sprint/Nextel and Sprint/Clearwire transaction decisions."

The FCC required Sprint and Clearwire to cover 15 million people within four years and 30 million people within six years. By comparison, LightSquared offered to cover 100 million people by the end of next year if the FCC granted its waiver to deploy terrestrial mobile broadband services in its satellite spectrum.

Walter Piecyk of BTIG Research is not optimistic about the chances that Dish would get its application approved. Piecyck said in a blog post today that Dish Network's application offered too much wiggle room around the timing and scope of the network, since any build out could be stalled by delays in the LTE Advanced standards process.

"We do not think this application gets approved on these terms," Piecyk said. "While we don't pretend to be regulatory experts we would be surprised to see the FCC waiver granted to Dish which in effect would further delay any license transfer."

Dish executive Tom Cullen said in a statement that the waiver it sought from the FCC was "consistent with FCC precedent while benefiting consumers by providing greater choice and broader service coverage."

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