Dish Network, the budget satellite television provider, has 40 MHz worth of spectrum in the 2 GHz band that they really want to use to deploy a wireless network. There’s a few problems though. First, that spectrum was originally intended to be used for satellite communication, so the FCC has to see whether or not Dish can use that spectrum for terrestrial use. Why? Because cell towers sprinkled around cities put out a hell of power versus a satellite farm or two in the middle of nowhere. Second, Dish wants to build an LTE-Advanced network, and as right now there is no official LTE-Advanced standard. It’s being worked on and is expected to become a standard by the end of next year. And third, T-Mobile and MetroPCS are lobbying the government to force Dish to sell 20 MHz worth of spectrum so that they can better compete against AT&T and Verizon.
It’s a tricky situation for these guys, and we’re kind of sad to admit this, but we’ve pretty much lost all hope when it comes to finding a viable competitor to the two titans of America’s mobile industry. LightSquared imploded, and now Dish Network is trapped in red tape. What’s T-Mobile going to over the next two years besides refarm some of their spectrum? And how many times is Sprint going to change their mind about their strategy over the next 12 months? Seriously, what kind of an operator launches 4G LTE smartphones before their 4G LTE network is actually up and running?
At the end of the day, it isn’t about how much spectrum you own, but about how well you build your network. Verizon may have the most expensive service out there, but you can tell that they’ve got competent engineers over there. By this time next year, they’ll pretty much blanket the entire country with 4G LTE.
Do we wish the others got the act together? Sure, but easier said than done.