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Dish Network may be eyeing mobile TV biz

The new 6MHz of spectrum that satellite TV provider Dish Networks won in the 700MHz spectrum auction is ideal for mobile TV.

Could satellite TV provider Dish Network be planning to build a mobile TV service with its newly won 700Mhz spectrum?

wireless auction

That's the question that many analysts were asking after it was disclosed this week that the company, also known as EchoStar Communications, spent $711 million for a block of licenses in the auction that is ideal for offering mobile broadcast TV, according to a Reuters story.

The much-talked about auction ended Tuesday raising about $19.6 billion for the government. Wireless carriers AT&T and Verizon Wireless won the bulk of the spectrum.

The licenses that Dish bought were in the 6MHz sliver of spectrum called the E-Block. Because these licenses cover such a narrow band of spectrum, it would be hard for Dish to build a broadband wireless service to transmit two-way communication. This means that building a cellular phone or wireless broadband service using this spectrum is nearly impossible. But the spectrum could be used to send communications one-way, making it ideal for services such as broadcast TV.

Qualcomm already owns spectrum that is adjacent to the spectrum that Dish bought. Qualcomm uses its spectrum to deliver its MediaFlo TV mobile broadcast TV service. Qualcomm had also been bidding in the auction and was attempting to get the E-Block licenses. The fact that it wasn't able to get those licenses is a negative for the mobile technology company.

"It makes more sense for one provider to operate both pieces of spectrum," Steve Clement, an analyst at Pacific Crest Securities told Reuters.

Dish hasn't said yet what it plans to do with the spectrum. Some analysts in the Reuters story speculate that it could cost the company between $3 billion and $5 billion to build a mobile TV network. The company said in a financial filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission in February that it might "make investments in or partner with others to expand our business into mobile and portable video, data and voice services."

There's also a possibility the company could work with Qualcomm.

Dish bid on the spectrum through its partner Frontier Wireless.