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Dish: Partner needed for wireless rollout

Fri, 08/17/2012 - 3:17pm
Maisie Ramsay, Wireless Week

A top Dish Network executive says the company may need to partner with an existing wireless operator to construct its LTE network.

Delays securing FCC clearance for its wireless plans may make it necessary to work with an incumbent provider, instead of constructing its own greenfield network, Dish Network Chairman Charlie Ergen told The Denver Post and the Denver Business Journal yesterday.

"The net effect of the delay is that it has become [less likely] that we would be able to build a network from scratch ourselves," Ergen told The Denver Post.

It has become "increasingly risky" for Dish Network to construct the network on its own, he told the Denver Business Journal.

Dish Network's potential competitors in the wireless space have already embarked on the construction of their own LTE networks, putting the company at a time-to-market disadvantage. Piggybacking on the infrastructure of a company like Sprint or Clearwire could cut Dish Network's infrastructure costs and help it launch its service faster.

In March, the FCC approved Dish Network's purchase of 40 MHz of spectrum in the AWS-4 band from bankrupt satellite companies DBSD and TerreStar. However, the Commission did not grant Dish Network a key waiver to use the spectrum for terrestrial cellular service, blocking it from moving forward with its LTE network. The FCC is currently conducting a rulemaking on the issue, and it is not clear when it will come to a decision.

Dish Network can use the spectrum for hybrid satellite-terrestrial wireless service under its licenses' current permissions. However, it has said such a plan is infeasible because devices running on the service would be larger and more expensive than those offered by other wireless providers.

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