Dish Network Corp. (DISH:US) said its ability to add mobile-phone service to satellite television offerings could be crippled by a U.S. proposal to limit power for the planned network.
The second-largest-U.S. satellite TV provider needs regulators’ approval to start wireless services that could compete with largest U.S. mobile provider Verizon Wireless and No. 2 AT&T Inc. (T:US) Dish in a May filing told the FCC that, to succeed, the company has to expand beyond video distribution to provide bundles including voice and data services.
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski yesterday offered fellow commissioners a proposal to regulate Dish’s airwaves use and auction for commercial use a swath of government-owned frequencies known as the H block that’s near those owned by the satellite provider, Neil Grace, an FCC spokesman, said in an interview.
“These actions will promote competition, investment and innovation, and advance commission efforts to unleash spectrum for mobile broadband,” Grace said in an e-mailed statement.
Dish, in an e-mailed statement, said the FCC plan would require its mobile network to use lower power than the company wanted.
The proposal “could cripple our ability to enter the business,” Dish Executive Vice President R. Stanton Dodge said in the statement. “The good news is that the proposed order is not final.”
Dish will ask the five-member commission to modify the proposal that as drafted would “render useless” part of the company’s airwaves, Dodge said.
The FCC has weighed how to prevent interference if Dish starts a powerful ground-based network on frequencies now designated for faint signals from satellites.
Sprint Nextel Corp. (S:US) asked the agency for limits on the power of gear such as handsets to avoid interference to the H block, which Sprint may seek to buy at auction, Larry Krevor, the company’s vice president of government affairs, said in a Nov. 14 briefing for reporters and analysts.
Dodge, the Dish executive, said the FCC appeared to have backed Sprint’s proposal.
John Taylor, a Sprint spokesman, said in an interview the company was pleased the FCC is moving forward with the H block auction and with rules for Dish’s spectrum.
“We remain hopeful that the commissioners will decide to support Dish’s plans to build a new wireless network, while taking the steps necessary to protect” nearby airwaves, Taylor said.
The FCC under Genachowski is trying to accommodate rising demand for mobile Internet service as consumers turn to smartphones and data-hungry tablets. The agency in 2010 voted to ease restrictions on smartphone use of the airwaves Dish now owns.
An attempt last year by the FCC to repurpose satellite airwaves for smartphone use foundered. The agency reversed its tentative approval to LightSquared Inc. after officials said the mobile service would interfere with global positioning system- based navigation gear, and the company filed for bankruptcy.
Dish, based in Englewood, Colorado, first asked for FCC approval in August 2011 after paying about $3 billion for airwaves from bankrupt satellite companies DBSD North America Inc. and TerreStar Networks Inc. in deals announced (DISH:US) last year.
The agency in March approved Dish’s taking control of the airwaves, and said it would write the rules that Genachowski has now proposed.
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