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AT&T pressures FCC on Dish build-out

Tue, 02/21/2012 - 3:22pm
Maisie Ramsay, Wireless Week

AT&T continues to pressure the FCC to force Dish into rapid build-out requirements for its planned mobile broadband network, requirements that the satellite provider has resisted.

The wireless operator filed a document on Friday pushing the agency to require "prompt network construction, along the lines of the LightSquared build-out requirements."

"There is no reason for the Commission to grant Dish a waiver, while simultaneously allowing Dish to sit on the spectrum for three years before even beginning to deploy facilities," AT&T said.

The ex parte filing is the second AT&T has filed on the subject since late January.

AT&T is rumored to be interested in buying Dish Network's satellite spectrum after it was forced to abandon its $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile USA, a deal that would have given it a much-desired chunk of spectrum.

Dish Network has asked the FCC for a waiver that will let it use satellite spectrum from TerreStar Networks and DBSD North America for an LTE Advanced network, but it said it needs a lenient deployment schedule to procure the necessary equipment for the next-generation LTE technology.

Construction of the network could be delayed until about 2015 under Dish's timeline.

Dish Network could not be immediately reached for comment on AT&T's latest missive, but it said earlier this month that AT&T's proposed build-out conditions were "unrealistic" and would set it up for failure.

"A new, next-generation LTE Advanced retail network simply cannot be viably built in the S-band at the pace AT&T suggests," Dish Network general counsel Jeffery Blum said in a Feb. 3 letter to the FCC.

Before the FCC decided to revoke key portions of LightSquared's license, the agency required the mobile broadband start-up to cover 100 million people by the end of this year and 260 million people by the end of 2015.

LightSquared-like build-out requirements could force Dish to piggyback on the existing network of an incumbent wireless operator, similar to LightSquared's spectrum hosting deal with Sprint, Blum said.

AT&T claims the "suggestion that infrastructure sharing is somehow problematic is specious."

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