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DISH LTE plan moves forward in Canada, not in US

9 Feb 2012

US satellite TV provider DISH Network’s plan to build a Long Term Evolution (LTE) 4G mobile broadband network using existing satellite frequencies has received a boost after the Canadian communications ministry, Industry Canada, approved the transfer of satellite spectrum to the company. DISH announced on Tuesday that Industry Canada has approved the transfer of Canadian licences held by bankrupt satellite operators TerreStar and DBSD North America, having concluded that the transaction was in the public interest because it would increase availability of wireless capacity. However, DISH is still awaiting approval from the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) before completing an acquisition of spectrum from satellite smartphone operator TerreStar and hybrid satellite/communications company DBSD. DISH’s subsidiary Gamma Acquisition agreed a USD325 million purchase of DBSD in February 2011 (in a deal valued at around USD1 billion in total) and in July 2011 Gamma wrapped up the acquisition of TerreStar for USD1.38 billion, before announcing plans for a hybrid satellite/LTE-Advanced network across North America the following month. DISH requires special permission from the FCC to offer standalone LTE end-user services in addition to integrated satellite/4G-capable phones.

CommsUpdate reported in December 2011 that US cellco Sprint Nextel backed down from its previously-stated opposition to DISH Network’s proposed plans to acquire 40MHz of S-band satellite spectrum in the 2GHz band with a view to launching LTE-Advanced network services. Sprint conceded that DISH’s mooted LTE-Advanced network will not interfere with its existing PCS network, which uses the adjacent 1900MHz spectrum band.

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