Dish Network owns 40 MHz of of spectrum in the 2 GHz band that they want to use to build an LTE-Advanced network. Before they can do that though, they need to get the green light from the FCC. Why? Because that spectrum was meant to be used for a satellite based network, not a terrestrial one, à la those that a traditional operator would build. This obviously has AT&T’s panties in a bunch since they don’t want more competition. In fact, they even wrote a letter to the FCC saying that Dish Network should follow the same rules that LightSquared agreed to follow, namely to build a network that can cover 100 million people in less than three years. Dish Network doesn’t want to deal with AT&T’s bullshit, so they wrote their own letter to the FCC saying that their network couldn’t be more different than LightSquared’s. Whereas LightSquared wants to build a wholesale network, Dish Network wants to build a network that they’ll market directly to consumers. LightSquared also wants to go with LTE, meanwhile Dish Network wants to jump straight to the next version: LTE-Advanced. AT&T even had the balls to complain that because Dish Network owns spectrum in the 700 MHz band, they might cause interference. Dish Network retorts by saying they have no plans on even using their 700 MHz spectrum.
What can we learn from all of this? AT&T really doesn’t care about their customers, they care about keeping competition at bay. It’s why they buy up all the spectrum they can and never actually bother using it. It’s why they pay lobbyists to make sure they get what they want. It’s just business as usual.
Can you do anything about it? Sure, switch to Verizon, who continues to keep their mouth shut and plays the “let the best network win” game. That’s how it should be done.
[Additional Reading: The actual letter Dish Network sent the FCC]