Multiple sources confirm that FCC chairman Julius
Genachowski has circulated an item allowing for the terrestrial use of satellite
spectrum in the AWS-4 band, which clears the way for Dish to use that spectrum
for wireless broadband.
That is the good news for Dish. The bad news is that if the
item remains as drafted, Dish will be on the hook for making sure it does not
interfere with users of the H Block, which the FCC will be auctioning per a
second item the chairman also circulated Tuesday seeking comment on that
There had been some question whether the onus would be on H
Block users or AWS-4 users like Dish to guard against the interference.
As the item stands, according to an FCC source familiar with
it, Dish would have to restrict power levels on the lower 5 MHz of its spectrum
adjacent to the AWS-4 band.
had initially sought an FCC waiver to use its AWS-4 spectrum, which it
purchased out of bankruptcy from TerreStar and DBSD, for a hybrid terrestrial-satellite
broadcast service, but
the FCC put that on hold while it prepared the item loosening the
satellite-only restrictions on the entire band.
Allowing for more terrestrial use of satellite spectrum has
been an FCC goal as it promotes competition for wireless broadband. That was
the motivation behind its efforts to allow LightSquared to use its satellite
spectrum for terrestrial 4G service. That effort ran into interference issues with
GPS, which is in an adjacent band.
An FCC spokesman confirmed that the items had been
"Chairman Julius Genachowski today shared proposals with his
colleagues that will unleash up to 50MHz of spectrum for mobile broadband,
including LTE. Specifically, the chairman proposes final action to enable
terrestrial use for AWS-4 spectrum, and moves forward with implementation of
Congressional direction to auction the H-block, slated for 2013. The H-block
auction will yield the first significant auction revenues for FirstNet and
deficit reduction. If approved, these actions will promote competition,
investment and innovation, and advance Commission efforts to unleash spectrum
for mobile broadband to help meet skyrocketing consumer demand, while unlocking
billions of dollars of value to the public."
The H block auction was part of legislation creating the
incentive spectrum auctions. FirstNet is the name given to the interoperable
broadband communications network that the auction proceeds are meant to help