FCC chairman supports Dish wireless bid...with restrictions

Dish fears wireless plans could be dead on arrival

One step forward and two steps back

It looks like Dish Network will have the Federal Communication Commission's (FCC) blessing should the company go ahead with launching its own wireless network.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski proposed support for Dish Network entering the wireless race Tuesday, noting that it would add some much needed competition to a wireless market that is dominated by a small number of firms.

"If approved, these actions will promote competition, investment and innovation, and advance commission efforts to unleash spectrum for mobile broadband to help meet skyrocketing consumer demand, while unlocking billions of dollars of value to the public," FCC spokesman Neil Grace said.

Article continues below

The proposal still requires approval from four additional FCC commissioners to pass, with voting expected to conclude before the end of the year.

There's always a catch

While wireless approval should be good news for Dish Network, the FCC's proposal also includes some significant restrictions that could threaten the plan's viability.

Dish Executive Vice President and General Counsel R. Stanton Dodge issued a statement claiming that the FCC proposal would require Dish Network to disable 25 percent of its uplink spectrum.

An additional 25 percent of Dish's potential spectrum would also be limited, so as not to interfere with bands of H Block spectrum held by Sprint.

H Block spectrum is not currently licensed by the FCC for wireless network use, however Sprint is petitioning the FCC to change that.

"While the FCC would grant full terrestrial rights, its proposal to lower our power and emissions levels could cripple our ability to enter the business," Dodge said.

There are also always appeals

Reports last week indicated that Dish Network is looking for a partner to help it enter the wireless industry, and that Google has already begun talks on the subject.

Those talks may be premature though if the proposed FCC regulations cause Dish's wireless plans to fizzle out before they even get started.

"If the FCC adopts this draft, the 3GPP (Third Generation Partnership Project) specification will likely be reopened and an FCC rulemaking will be needed for the H Block," Dodge said.

"Until we know how to manage issues like interference from the H Block, we may have to put on hold activities like radio design and network build out while we wait for the H Block rulemaking and another 3GPP process to be completed."

Dodge added that the FCC proposal is still not final, and that he hopes a compromise can be reached.

"We stand ready to work with the full Commission on final rules that put the full AWS-4 spectrum to work for America and that advance the future potential of the H Block."

Via The Washington Post