The 3GPP has approved technical specifications for 40 MHz of AWS-4 spectrum controlled by Dish Network. The 3GPP's approval will allow Dish the necessary technical blueprints needed to design and build everything from cell phone chipsets to broadband networks.
Dish is now urging the FCC to follow suit and approve a new set of rules that would give it the final go-ahead to deploy an LTE Advanced network on the spectrum.
Over the past several months, Sprint Nextel has petitioned the FCC to reduce the power levels of Dish's spectrum so that it won't interfere with H-block spectrum, which Sprint is waiting to acquire.
If granted, Sprint's request would reopen Dish's 3GPP specifications, causing further delay to a process that Dish started more than 20 months ago.
In an ex parte filing with the FCC on Thursday, Sprint reiterated its call to shift Dish Network's AWS-4 band up 5 MHz from 2000-2020 MHz to 2005-2025 MHz so that adjacent H-block PCS spectrum can be used for LTE.
Sprint claims that if the FCC were to limit the H-block to only small cell use or air-to-ground communication, it likely would not bid on that spectrum. Dish has argued that a "full-power" H-block would cause at least 25 percent of its uplink to become unusable, a claim Sprint has said is erroneous.
Jeff Blum, senior vice president and deputy general counsel for Dish, called Sprint's proposal a "zero-sum approach" that "does not result in net spectrum gain for the American consumer and creates no new jobs."
"Worse yet, it takes 5 MHz of spectrum out of the hands of a new market entrant and puts it in the hands of an incumbent that already has more than 200 MHz of wireless spectrum," Blum said. "This makes no sense at a time when the nation is enduring a spectrum crunch and would benefit from more wireless competition.”
Dish Network Chairman Charlie Ergen has been vocal about how any further delays in the FCC's approval process will affect his company's plans to put the spectrum to use.
At the PCIA conference in October, Ergen said he was disappointed at how long it has taken the FCC to act on the matter. Ergen argued that further delays caused by acceptance of Sprint's proposals would hurt Dish's ability to compete with operators like AT&T and Verizon Wireless and said the company may be forced to sell the spectrum if it takes any longer.
Along with Sprint, MetroPCS has commented on Dish's entry to the broadband space. MetroPCS has asked that Dish be required to relinquish 30 MHz of its allocated spectrum in the top major metropolitan areas in the U.S., while retaining 40 MHz in all other markets, in exchange for increased flexibility on all of the AWS-4 licensed spectrum that it retains.
MetroPCS went so far as to initiate a study to gauge the technical aspects of its proposal, but on Thursday, the carrier informed the FCC that due to "other priorities," it had ceased work on that study.