DISH Network is defending its terrestrial wireless plan to the FCC. The company bought bankrupt satellite operators TerreStar Networks and DBSD North America which share the 2 GHz MSS satellite spectrum.
Dish hopes to offer terrestrial LTE service nationwide. DISH, in a 67-page filing with the FCC (pdf), says their spectrum would have no interference issues and would advance the agency’s highest priority of “deploying broadband to every American.”
Competing satphone provider LightSquared has run into resistance from GPS advocates because they are adjoining the GPS band at 1.6 GHz.
Critics of the Dish plan include incumbents and friends of Lightsquared including Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile USA and MetroPCS as well as the CTIA – The Wireless Association. Perhaps notable by their absence are incumbents AT&T and Verizon.
The House Committee on Small Business conducted a hearing entitled “LightSquared: The Impact to Small Business GPS Users” with a variety of opinions.
GPS advocates are generally skeptical of Lightsquared. Incumbent telcos are generally skeptical of Dish.
Sprint Nextel asked the FCC to impose build-out requirements similar to those the agency has already required of LightSquared.
MetroPCS, also a partner in Lightsquared, asked the FCC to force DISH to provide a detailed business plan before considering the transfer application.
DISH said its build-out conditions were modeled on the one that Sprint itself was subject to in the Nextel and Clearwire transactions. DISH also refuted claims that its plan would create “harmful” interference to cellular’s 1.9 GHz PCS spectrum.
“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,” said Dish.
DISH also cited endorsements received by Globalstar and the U.S. GPS Industry Council, which has been at odds with LightSquared.
DISH has proposed to use the [now unused] 40 megahertz of 2 gigahertz S-band MSS spectrum to deploy a satellite-terrestrial network. The company filed for a waiver in August to allow single-mode (terrestrial-only) LTE devices on its network, a waiver that the commission conditionally granted to LightSquared in January.
In acquiring DBSD’s and TerreStar’s spectrum, DISH would seemingly be able to build out a nationwide LTE network without the interference problems of Lightsquared.
ICO G1 was launched on April 4, 2008 while the competing TerreStar-1, launched on July 1, 2009. They were joined by LightSquared’s 1.6 GHz satellite in November, 2010.
All three satellites are now operational.
ICO and TerreStar use the 2 GHz band while Lightsquared uses 1.6 GHz. They’re huge satellite platforms with hundreds of spotbeams capable of delivering voice and data to handheld devices. Both ICO (DBSD) and TerreStar declared bankruptcy.
Both company’s assets were bought by Charlie Ergen’s Dish Networks.
Meanwhile, ViaSat-1 launched last week, and has now maneuvered into its assigned geosynchronous slot and has successfully completed all scheduled maneuvers. The 140 Gbps capacity satellite is scheduled to enter service in late December.
While Lightsquared, Inmarsat, ICO and TerreStar were designed for mobile phones/data at 1.6 GHz or 2 GHz, ViaSat-1 is designed to deliver fixed broadband at 20/30 GHz to homes and businesses in rural areas. Consumers may get internet speeds up to 10 Mbps using small (1 meter) dishes. ViaSat’s fixed broadband is completely unrelated and quite different from Lightsquared’s mobile broadband.
Ergen is also invested in fixed satellite broadband. Ergen’s EchoStar bought broadband-satellite services company Hughes Communications earlier this year in a $2 billion deal. Dish expects to launch HughesNet JUPITER, a mirror image of ViaSat-1, in the first half of 2012 for fixed satellite broadband.
It’s the bottom of the ninth.