Dish Seeks Waiver for Hybrid Terrestrial-Satellite Broadband Service
Satellite operator tees up own version of integrated nationwide next-gen broadband network
By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 8/22/2011 4:17:27 PM
The FCC granted LightSquared a waiver for its hybrid broadband service in the wake of a National Broadband Plan conclusion that "gating" criteria, such as the integrated service mandate, have made it difficult to achieve the Commission's goals of a more efficient and flexible use of spectrum.
Like LightSquared, Dish wants to be able to provide both the hybrid satellite-terrestrial receivers, as well as terrestrial-only to those who do not want the satellite function. "Allowing TerreStar and Dish to provide single-mode terrestrial terminals to customers who have no need for satellite functions will achieve significant public benefits, and will do so by better serving the important, underlying policy," Dish told the FCC in its application, that policy goal being to promote broadband deployment.
In July, a judge approved Dish's purchase of TerreStar out of bankruptcy. Dish wants the commission to combine the new request with an earlier one for DBSD's S-Band licenses. Dish plans to combine the license to provide an integrated mobile, portable and fixed broadband network under a newly-created subsidiary, Gamma. It promises the FCC that if it gets the go-ahead, Dish will promise to meet build-out deadlines and provide rural service. Bridging the rural-digital divide is one of the FCC's public interest goals.
Satellite operators have long coveted the bundled service offerings of video and fixed broadband that have turned cable operators into some of the nation's largest ISPs. Dish says it wants to be a check on the market power of mobile providers present and future. "This transaction represents an important first step in obtaining spectrum necessary to establish Dish as a viable provider of mobile broadband services. Although still modest in comparison to the holdings of many incumbent mobile broadband providers, the spectrum assignments contemplated by the TerreStar and DBSD transactions, taken together, provide an essential foundation for Dish's ability to compete against them," the company said in its filing.
That would include LightSquared. Dish points out that LightSquared will have 59 MHz of spectrum, while combining its DBSD and TerreStar spectrum would only give it 40 MHz, allowing it to compete "to some extent" with incumbents.
Dish said combining the applications and providing the waiver would allow it to deliver the kind of 4G LTE mobile broadband service the Obama Administration is promoting. But Dish wanted to make sure the FCC did not take its argument for providing more competition as any evidence that an AT&T-T-Mobile combo would be any less of a threat to competition.
"To be sure, these benefits will be no panacea for all of the ills afflicting the increasingly concentrated CMRS [Commercial Mobile Radio Service] market today, and particularly for the problems that the proposed AT&T-T-Mobile combination," it said.
One problem the Dish service would not run into is interference with GPS service. That is an issue that has delayed LightSquared's rollout of its service. GPS interference is not an issue with the S-band, a Dish spokesman points out.
But unlike LightSquared, which is offering a wholesale service that would be offered to Dish's cable competitors, among others, Dish's network will be a branded offering to its subscribers, the Dish spokesman confirmed.
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