Thursday, November 22, 2012

Dish TV wants to become Dish TV and Mobile

The Financial Times reports that Dish has won FCC approval to use spectrum they already own for LTE cellular communication rather than TV broadcast.

The approval came with a caveat regarding power limitations so as to avoid interference with adjacent spectrum that the FCC plans to auction next year. (That spectrum will also be used for LTE).

Dish said it was not all good news since the power restrictions could "cripple our ability to enter the business." Perhaps they are hoping to negotiate with the FCC over those restrictions.

The Wall Street Journal has speculated that Dish might partner with Google in forming a mobile communication company. Or perhaps Dish will sell the spectrum, which is now worth more than it was before the FCC approval.

Dish's move is reminiscent of the recent case in which the FCC turned down LightSquared, a startup seeking to offer LTE service using spectrum adjacent to GPS frequencies. LightSquared has a new proposal before the FCC, asking permission to share frequencies that are used by weather balloons.

Dish might provide some competition for the mobile cartel, but, then again, they have not exactly driven the price of broadcast TV down. But there are others as well. Google may join in with or without Dish, LightSquared may get a second chance, T-Mobile and Metro PCS want to compete and virtual mobile operators like Virgin and Ting are offering cut-rate prices. The cartel may be weakened.