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Dish negotiating with FCC on LTE buildout expectations, network could come in 2016

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The FCC and Dish network work on the terms of Dish's LTE network buildout, which could roll out in 2016 or later.

dish logo ces 1020
dish logo ces 1020

Dish is one of the few non-traditional entrants in the LTE market still left standing, and the TV company has been working with the FCC on terms for building out service in the so-called AWS-4 band where the company has a significant spectrum position. Dish stated on Thursday that not only is the FCC's timetable unmanageable, but that its penalties for failing to meet deadlines, like automatic license termination, are simply unrealistic.

Both Dish and the FCC have proposals on the table for the LTE buildout and Dish is proposing that it could reach 60 million customers within four years, while the FCC is looking for a 90 million person user base in only three years. Dish will have to wait until December for the 3GPP to finalize the specs for its LTE-Advanced implementation, which puts Dish's network launch out to the end of 2016 if a four year buildout is agreed upon.

It's easy to see how Dish would feel like the FCC's terms are a little unreasonable — the company says that T-Mobile has a 15 year buildout term, and both Verizon and AT&T have 10 year terms. All three of these carriers have terrestrial spectrum and longstanding relationships with the FCC when it comes to mobile data networks,while Dish has to work with the FCC on a rulemaking process to convert bandwith historically used for satellites to terrestrial use — a process that some potential competitors are making as difficult as possible. All in all, there are numerous regulatory hoops for Dish to jump through, but it looks as though the TV network intends on following through with its plans to become a major LTE provider as long as the FCC plays ball — the only question is whether they'll partner up or merge by the time the network goes live.