FCC approves DISH plans to repurpose satellite spectrum for mobile use

12 Dec 2012

US telecoms regulator the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has reportedly given the nod for satellite broadcaster Dish Network Corporation, commonly known as DISH, to convert satellite spectrum for wireless use. Jeff Blum, DISH senior vice president and deputy general counsel, said of the watchdog’s decision: ‘The FCC has removed outdated regulations and granted terrestrial flexibility for most of the AWS-4 band.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. 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.’

As previously reported by CommsUpdate, late last month reports emerged suggesting that DISH had inched closer to winning regulatory approval to launch 4G mobile broadband services, after the chairman of the FCC, Julius Genachowski, aired a proposal to allow the operator to use a 50MHz block of ‘AWS-4’ satellite wireless spectrum for terrestrial services based on LTE technology. However, the proposal contained a condition setting power emission constraints in the AWS-4 band to protect the adjacent ‘H’ block of spectrum that the FCC plans to auction next year, and DISH responded with caution to the FCC chairman’s disclosure, saying in a statement that ‘[the] proposal to lower our power and emissions levels could cripple our ability to enter the [LTE] business.’

In separate but related news, the FCC has also confirmed that it has unanimously approved freeing up 40MHz of underutilized satellite spectrum for land-based mobile broadband, including LTE. The regulator in a statement on its website said that it had approved a framework for the auction of the aforementioned ‘H’ block next year, noting that proceeds from the sale process will ‘help fund a nationwide Public Safety Network for our first responders and reduce the deficit’.

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