Just a week after receiving 3GPP technical specs for use of its AWS spectrum, the FCC is saying it intends to limit the use of Dish's spectrum, according to a report published by The Wall Street Journal today.
According to the report, FCC officials said that they are leaning toward limiting Dish's 40 MHz of AWS-4 spectrum to prevent interference with the H-block, a chunk of spectrum in which Sprint has expressed interest.
Sprint has repeatedly petitioned the FCC to shift Dish Network's AWS-4 band up 5 MHz, from 2000-2020 MHz to 2005-2025 MHz, so 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 communications, 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, recently 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.
Ergen told The Wall Street Journal that should the FCC push such limitations on its spectrum, it would likely be a "game changer" for the company. Ergen has repeatedly said all options are on the table, including bringing a partner into its plans, or even selling its spectrum outright.