Credit Suisse has advised clients it believes the FCC
will grant waivers to Dish to operate a terrestrial mobile broadband network.
Dish on Aug. 22 asked the commission to consolidate the
transfer of satellite licenses that came with Dish's purchase of TerreStar and
DBSD out of bankruptcy earlier in 2011 and -- citing commission precedent -- asked
for a waiver of the FCC's integrated service requirement so it can use the
combined spectrum to offer terrestrial-only receivers as part of its planned
hybrid terrestrial-satellite broadband service.
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. But issues about GPS interference from LightSquared has put
the FCC's authorization on hold, and a host of government agencies are arguing
that until, and if, those problems can be resolved, there are too many threats
to airline safety, first responders, weather forecasting and a litany of other
things to allow LightSquared to proceed.
Following a conference call with a "D.C.
regulatory/satellite expert," Credit Suisse said it believed the FCC would
grant the waivers, with "relatively benign conditions. It cited "1)
the FCC's and Obama administration's goal of widening the availability of
broadband, especially in rural areas, (2) LightSquared's continued struggles to
successfully launch its network, (3) the long period of time that it will take
for the FCC to reclaim spectrum from broadcasters via incentive auctions."
Conditions, it said, would likely hinge on "whether the FCC is granted
incentive auction authority by Congress in the next six to 12 months" [the
President has made the auctions a part of his jobs bill that he is sending to
Congress ASAP], and LightSquared's ability to overcome interference issues and
capital constraints to successfully launch its own wireless network.
In its filing, Dish offered some build-out commitments.
The FCC could ask for more, said Credit Suisse, but added that in Dish's favor
are "Dish's access to capital, its satellite expertise, its base of 14 million
customers, LightSquared's continued woes, the administration's continued desire
to show success around its Broadband Plan."