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Industry Canada clears Dish Network, TerreStar deal

Tue, 02/07/2012 - 1:26pm
Maisie Ramsay, Wireless Week

Industry Canada today cleared Dish Network's acquisition of TerreStar's satellite spectrum across the United States' northern border.

The approval brings Dish one step closer to closing its purchase of spectrum from the bankrupt satellite company, but it still must get FCC clearance for the deal.

"Dish is prepared to immediately close both transactions upon receiving Federal Communications Commission approval of the transactions and associated waiver requests, which will enable Dish to move forward with its planned wireless initiatives," the company said.

Dish wants to launch an LTE Advanced network in its newly acquired satellite spectrum. It must get a FCC waiver for land-based base stations to pull off its plan, similar to the waiver LightSquared received for its embattled wholesale mobile broadband network.

Industry Canada decided to allow TerreStar to transfer its Canadian spectrum licenses to Dish subsidiary Gamma Acquisition Canada after finding the deals were in the public interest.

Chantal Beaumier, director of space services for Industry Canada, said in a letter to Dish that the regulator "took into account the potential for benefits to Canadians, in particular the capacity that would be available in Canada and continuity of service to existing users."

Dish pledged to designate capacity on the TerreStar-1 satellite for Canadian use in its submissions for the deal and also said it would provide bandwidth to TerreStar Solutions, which provides satellite service in the country.

As part of its conditions for the deal, Industry Canada is asking Dish to "make fair and reasonable efforts" to provide the country with satellite services within the coverage of the TerreStar-1 satellite.

The company is also required to invest at least 2 percent of its gross sales from the satellite on research and development. Dish will have to submit annual reports to the Canadian government detailing its compliance with the conditions.

Dish is also waiting on FCC approval for its acquisition of spectrum from another bankrupt satellite communications provider, DBSD. The TerreStar and DBSD deals were approved by U.S. bankruptcy courts last year, but neither has received the go-ahead from the FCC.

A spokesman said the company does not have to get any international approvals for the DBSD deal.

Dish has asked the FCC for lenient build-out requirements that allow equipment and devices for LTE Advanced to come to market before it constructs its network. AT&T is pushing the agency to put Dish on an accelerated deployment schedule, but the company is against the plan, calling it "unrealistic."

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