Place your bets…

Posted in Financials, ICO/DBSD, LightSquared, Operators, Regulatory, Spectrum, TerreStar at 2:08 pm by timfarrar

Today, DISH has filed its transfer application for TerreStar’s 2GHz spectrum licenses with the FCC, stating that it plans to combine the spectrum with that of DBSD, so that it can use the full 40MHz to launch a “hybrid satellite and terrestrial mobile and fixed broadband network…to provide American consumers with greater choice for mobile broadband services”. DISH plans to deploy its network “based on the LTE Advanced standard” for which “commercial devices are expected to be generally available by 2014″, and seeks permission “to provide dual-mode terminals to customers who want them, and single-mode terrestrial terminals to customers who do not want the satellite function” noting that “relief from the integration requirement is an important component of DISH’s plan”. DISH also seeks a waiver of the ATC gating requirement to acquire a backup satellite.

In exchange, DISH states that it “is prepared to work with the Commission to develop a reasonable, attainable buildout schedule keyed to commercial availability of the LTE Advanced standard” and make “certain substantial terrestrial network deployment commitments intended to increase wireless broadband competition, including in rural areas”. However, though DISH has previously indicated that it will seek partners for its mobile broadband play, it does not commit to make network available on a wholesale basis to third parties.

As I’ve pointed out previously, DISH is now in a perfect position to replace LightSquared as the FCC’s favored option for providing additional wireless competition. Indeed DISH highlights specifically in the TerreStar application that “use of the [2GHz] band also does not give rise to the GPS interference issues that have hampered the use of the L-band” which is one of the factors meaning that the “promise of MSS/ATC has yet to be fully realized”. DISH also notes pointedly that it is “a well-financed, capable, and recognized innovator in communications technology [with] unique experience in developing an innovative and competitive retail operation and growing it from zero to approximately 14 million subscribers”.

Thus this application now sets the scene for a negotiation with the Commission over the terms of the promised buildout, including the specific coverage commitments and perhaps even some later promise (depending on the views of DISH’s key partners) to enter into wholesale deals with smaller players. With the cable companies apparently aligning themselves with Sprint, it looks very much like DISH will now partner with MetroPCS and perhaps even DirecTV and/or Leap as well.


  1. darkblue said,

    August 23, 2011 at 5:43 am


    You sound like a scorned old woman. LS must have fired you from their staff. Everyone knows Ergen is not going to build out a network. No one trusts him, including the FCC. They are not going to put their eggs in that basket because they know he will make them look foolish. It is inevitable. This guy, as smart as he is, will never build the network. He is using it as bait so one of the big guys step up and attempt to pay him for a dwindling subscriber base. Dish and Ergen are on the downward slope of a steep hill and he knows that, hence his aggressive acquisition tactics over the last 12 months…. stay tuned….

  2. timfarrar said,

    August 23, 2011 at 7:17 am

    Thanks Phil(???) – writing comments from a Harbinger Capital computer isn’t a particularly smart move.

    I think the FCC has a lot of work to do over the next year so it doesn’t look foolish. After all, we have the debacle of the supposed “spectrum crisis”, which AT&T is now exploiting to justify the TMO merger, we have the GPS interference fiasco, and we have incentive auction proposals which the CBO admits would require uneconomic decisions by the current spectrum holders.

    In that context, the fact that a network could actually get built in the 2GHz band, might look like a pretty significant win. However, that’s just my opinion, and I should probably defer to your much greater knowledge of how to make the FCC look foolish.

  3. DISH Outlines 4G Wireless Plans | Telecompetitor said,

    August 23, 2011 at 11:27 am

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    August 23, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    [...] operating in the MSS satellite band, writes that the FCC may be inclined to give Dish a chance over on his blog: As I’ve pointed out previously, DISH is now in a perfect position to replace LightSquared as the [...]

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    August 24, 2011 at 7:26 am

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  6. SupersonicMike said,

    September 5, 2011 at 10:48 am

    How bad is this going to hose the aeronautical telemetry S-Band spectrum, which I think is directly adjacent to it.

  7. timfarrar said,

    September 6, 2011 at 8:20 am

    If you are referring to the 2200-2290MHz band (which I believe is used for LOS operations to unmanned aircraft) then there is currently an agreement in place to ensure that DBSD/TerreStar protect various government Earth stations (though its not clear whether that addresses the potential problem you mention). Exactly how this will happen with a 20MHz LTE Advanced downlink carrier is not obvious to me (can you limit the power in the upper part of the carrier on the affected base stations?).

    There are obviously also concerns (from the DoD and others such as Boeing) about the impact of LightSquared on the L-band MAT (1435-1525MHz) used for manned aircraft, especially with LightSquared’s current focus on operations in the lower part of the L-band.

  8. TMF Associates MSS blog » The inevitable next step for AT&T… said,

    December 13, 2011 at 7:46 pm

    [...] has played a masterful game of poker, and far from making the FCC “look foolish” as some have suggested, he simply makes Harbinger look foolish for having failed to do adequate due diligence on the [...]

  9. TMF Associates MSS blog » Will it be CharlieSquared? said,

    May 7, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    [...] than Falcone to negotiate a way out of their current dilemma, despite Falcone’s claims in his comments to an earlier blog post of mine that: Everyone knows Ergen is not going to build out a network. No one trusts him, including the [...]

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