updated 11:15 pm EST, Fri March 2, 2012
FCC says Dish must wait on 4G waiver
The FCC on Friday delayed a decision whether or not Dish could get a waiver for a satellite-free version of its proposed 4G phone network. The agency decided that the "rulemaking process" was necessary for the public good. It didn't give details of when a decision was expected, although claims by a pair of Reuters sources had a decision targeted for the end of the year.
Dish bought a total of $3 billion in wireless spectrum in 2011 through DBSD and Terrestar. It hopes to become a cellphone carrier using the spectrum, but how it accomplishes this depends on whether or not the FCC clears the deal. If denied, it might have to use its existing satellite network for some of the carriage, significantly slowing down its performance versus AT&T, Verizon, or others that only need a terrestrial network.
Dish has been prepared to take contingency steps if it can't make its cellular network operate, such as selling spectrum or writing it off as a loss. AT&T has been rumored courting the company, although the rival has also been accused of pushing Dish into failure that would set it up for AT&T to step in.