FCC approves Dish's plans for high-speed wireless

With its massive satellite spectrum, Dish is given the go-ahead by the U.S. government to put those airwaves to wireless use.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
2 min read

Dish has been given the official green light to fire up its wireless spectrum. The satellite TV provider announced today that the Federal Communications Commission has approved its request for wireless spectrum use.

"The FCC has removed outdated regulations and granted terrestrial flexibility for most of the AWS-4 band," Dish senior vice president and deputy general counsel Jeff Blum said in a statement today. "The Commission has taken an important step toward facilitating wireless competition and innovation, and fulfilling the goals of the National Broadband Plan."

Dish started talks with the FCC earlier this year. Initially, Dish had asked the FCC to grant it a waiver so that it could use 40 MHz of spectrum in the 2 GHz band for a 4G LTE wireless broadband network. But in March, the commission put off granting the waiver to Dish in favor of a formal rule-making.

Last month, the FCC's chairman said he favored Dish's plan to become a wireless provider because he wanted to see more competition in the wireless industry. However, in order for Dish to be approved, the FCC also said there had to be limits on the company's network in order to prevent interference with other airwaves.

Sprint reportedly asked Dish to partner with it last week. In exchange for unused mobile airwaves, Sprint said it would let Dish offer its wireless service to its customers. Sprint isn't the only company interested in Dish's airwaves. Reports of Google and Dish discussing a partnership surfaced in October, and earlier this year, AT&T expressed interest in Dish's regulatory process moving forward quickly.

Although the FCC voted today to let Dish adapt its satellite spectrum for wireless use, some restrictions will still apply, according to Reuters. It's not yet clear, however, what these restrictions are. It's also unclear if Dish will sell the spectrum or partner with a wireless provider, like Sprint or AT&T.

"Following a more thorough review of the order and its technical details," Blum said, "Dish will consider its strategic options and the optimal approach to put this spectrum to use for the benefit of consumers."