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Dish: With these restrictions, FCC, you are totally crippling us

H Block? Chopping block more like, snivels wouldbe cellco

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FCC Chair Julius Genachowski has said that Dish Networks will get its licence for a US mobile network, but with restrictions that the company claims will fatally undermine its business.

Approval would allow Dish to use frequencies hitherto reserved for satellite communications with an earth-based network, but the restrictions include vacating the 5MHz band which Sprint has its eyes on, and keeping transmission power low enough to avoid interfering with the neighbours - restrictions that Dish reckons will "cripple our ability to enter the [mobile] business" by reducing range and coverage possible.

The FCC still has to vote on the proposals, leaving Dish a month or so to make its case, which goes some way to explain the vehemence with which it responded. The proposals haven't yet been published and only exist in public as comments made by Genachowski and reported by The Washington Post.

"While the FCC’s proposed order, based on reported accounts, does properly address some of the opportunities with this spectrum, it’s significantly flawed by introducing serious limitations that impair its utility," says the apoplectic response from Dish, going on to explain that the power caps risk American jobs and investment while the 5MHz shift is just silly.

Sprint, which plans to deploy LTE in neighbouring spectrum, wants Dish to keep nearest 5MHz empty, but Dish points out that Sprint is only planning to fill 5MHz of spectrum, arguing that the net gain for the US population is zero.

"Sprint's position on the H Block would render useless 25 per cent of DISH's uplink spectrum — so that Sprint is positioned to merely gain the exact same amount of spectrum.

"This is a zero-sum approach that does not result in a net spectrum gain for the American consumer when the wireless economy needs access to all available spectrum," says Dish's VP, adding the inevitable: "Nor does this approach add jobs" - the economic argument attached to every appeal in the US these days.

The power limits are interesting in that the UK's spectrum regulator, Ofcom, and (eventually) the FCC, plan to replace transmission caps with interference caps - so licensees are limited by the amount of out-of-band interference they generate, rather than having caps on their in-band transmissions, which rewards clever filtering while controlling interference. But that’s for the future, while Dish wants to deploy kit next year.

To do that the company will need a partner with deep pockets, with Google currently in the frame. Any deal will be dependent on FCC approval, and could depend on getting that 5MHz too, so Dish will likely fight tooth and nail to get its way on this one. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

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