DISH Defends Mobile Broadband Plan, Rebuffs Concerns Over Interference

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By Paul Barbagallo  

DISH Network Corp. fiercely defended its plan to buy bankrupt satellite operators TerreStar Networks Inc. and DBSD North America Inc. for the rollout of a new nationwide mobile broadband network, saying in comments with the Federal Communications Commission that its proposal would advance the agency's highest priority of “deploying broadband networks to every American.”

The issue of whether, and how, users of spectrum can co-exist is one of the most fundamental in the federal government's effort to nearly double the amount of spectrum available for mobile broadband within the next 10 years. LightSquared Inc., another would-be competitor to Verizon Wireless and AT&T Inc., has run into similar resistance from incumbent interests, particularly manufacturers and users of global positioning system devices.

In a 67-page filing with the FCC in dockets 11-149 and 11-150 in response to critics of its plan, which include CTIA-The Wireless Association, Sprint Nextel Corp., T-Mobile USA Inc., and MetroPCS Communications, DISH argued that not a single party has said that its deals with TerreStar and DBSD would have “anticompetitive effects,” nor does any of these parties question the “competitive force” that a hybrid satellite/terrestrial service across the entire 2 gighertz MSS (mobile satellite service) band would bring to mobile broadband.

To bolster its case, DISH also cited endorsements received by Globalstar Inc., and the U.S. GPS Industry Council, which has been at odds with LightSquared over possible interference to GPS operations from LightSquared's network.

“DISH, a satellite operator with a proven track record of investment, competition, and innovation, seeks the transfer of underutilized spectrum and satellite resources from the hands of two bankrupt companies—a move that will put DISH on sure footing to begin to compete aggressively with entrenched nationwide wireless providers,” it said in the consolidated opposition filed the week of Oct. 24. “The commission has the authority, precedent, and appropriate procedure to seize this opportunity and approve the transactions and the associated waivers today.”

DISH Rejects Idea of Rulemaking.

DISH has proposed a plan whereby the company would use 40 megahertz of 2 gigahertz S-band MSS spectrum to deploy a satellite-terrestrial mobile and fixed broadband network.

The company filed for a waiver in August of agency rules to allow single-mode terrestrial devices to be used on its network, a waiver that the commission conditionally granted to LightSquared in January.

CTIA and T-Mobile, however, have urged the agency to address the issue of whether carriers can employ 2 GHz MSS spectrum beyond ATC services in a larger rulemaking proceeding, an idea DISH flatly rejected.

“In advocating a rulemaking in lieu of consideration of [DISH's] waiver requests on their merits, they present the commission with a choice: whether to act promptly and open the path to a new and viable wireless venture that will compete against established mobile broadband providers or, on the other hand, to delay new entry and competition by debating extrinsic issues for years,” DISH wrote. “The commission—and the nation—cannot afford the delay.”

Sprint's Build-Out Requirements Unfair, DISH Says.

The company also bristled at suggestions by Sprint Nextel that the FCC impose build-out requirements similar to those the agency has already required of LightSquared, with which Sprint has a network deployment agreement.

DISH said that while Sprint Nextel supports “the broad competition goals outlined in the proposed acquisition,” it simultaneously makes “gratuitous requests” for an accelerated build-out schedule and other constraints such as pricing restrictions that will serve as a “lose-lose-lose” for DISH, the commission, and the public alike. Instead, DISH has proposed a build-out condition modeled on one that Sprint itself was subject to in the Nextel and Clearwire transactions.

In addition, DISH said, the pricing restrictions proposed by Sprint could make it more difficult for the company to compete on price with Sprint's offerings, and would not be in the “interest of competition or consumers.”

Interference Issues Already Solved.

DISH also refuted claims that its plan would subject incumbent PCS, or Personal Communications Services, spectrum band licensees or their customers to “harmful” interference.

“The supposed threat of interference ‘into adjacent PCS operations' cannot be cause for delay either,” DISH said. “We seek no change to the applicable power or out-of-band emission limits below 2000 MHz. Additionally, the 3rd Generation Partnership Project, with participation from CTIA members, reached a consensus agreement just a few months ago on interference protection standards for 2 GHz LTE devices, laying to rest any real interference concerns.”

Both DBSD and TerreStar Networks hold enormous potential for increased broadband deployment in the United States. In acquiring DBSD's and TerreStar's spectrum, DISH would be able to build out wireless networks to support both data and voice communication.

By Paul Barbagallo  

For the filing, visit http://fjallfoss.fcc.gov/ecfs/document/view?id=7021740801.