The FCC appears poised to allow Dish Networks to use their spectrum to build an LTE network, providing a waiver that lets Dish ignore conditions on the spectrum requiring they also offer satellite phone service. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal
, the approval may come with a major caveat: Dish may be forced to restrict a a chunk of their spectrum to prevent interference with neighboring bands. Dish boss Charlie Ergen tells the Journal
such conditions "would be a game changer for us," making Dish's bet to enter the wireless industry "increasingly risky."
The conditions appear to have been pushed for by Sprint, who is interested in owning some of the neighboring bands as they build out an LTE network of their own:
For months Sprint has been lobbying the FCC to make technical changes on Dish's spectrum holdings to reduce the possibility of interference with the adjacent spectrum block, which Sprint has said it wants to buy. Dish has been arguing that the changes advocated by Sprint aren't necessary, since the block could still be used at low power. But the FCC, for its part, wants to sell that block for the highest value possible, which would come from a full-powered use, the officials said.
Dish's LTE network, rumored to launch under the brand name "Ollo," isn't expected to see the light of day until around 2015. Some analysts have argued that Dish isn't serious, and that the network build is simply a stage play
designed to bump up the value of the spectrum ahead of a sale. However, rumors last week suggested that Dish has been in talks with numerous companies on a wireless partnership, including Google. Filings
suggest Dish was also interested in possibly acquiring MetroPCS.