FCC approves Dish's wireless plans

Posted by Emma Woollacott

The Federal Communications Commission has given Dish Networks the nod to switch spectrum currently used for satellite communications over to wireless use.

It's approved the freeing up of 40MHz of spectrum for land-based mobile broadband, including LTE. The decision frees Dish up to use the AWS-4 band for wireless use.

"The FCC has removed outdated regulations and granted terrestrial flexibility for most of the AWS-4 band. We appreciate the hard work and focus of the FCC and its staff throughout this process. The Commission has taken an important step toward facilitating wireless competition and innovation, and fulfilling the goals of the National Broadband Plan," says Jeff Blum, DISH senior vice president and deputy general counsel.

"Following a more thorough review of the order and its technical details, DISH will consider its strategic options and the optimal approach to put this spectrum to use for the benefit of consumers."

Dish is hoping to do this by partnering with another firm. Sprint has been suggested as a possible partner, as has Google, which has been rolling out gigabit fiberoptic technology in recent months.

The FCC has also approved a proposal to prepare for an auction of the H Block some time next year. "Proceeds from this auction will help fund a nationwide Public Safety Network for our first responders and reduce the deficit," it says.

While Sprint will likely benefit from this - it's known to be interested in the H Band - it's already expressed concerns about interference from Dish's use of the adjacent spectrum.

As a result, the FCC has placed restrictions on the use of the AWS-4 band, ordering Dish to leave a 'guard band' of unused spectrum to protect the H Block. It's also requiring Dish to build out at least 70 percent of the new network within six years.

The White House has declared it wants 500 MHz of spectrum available for broadband use by 2020.