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Will Dish Network Be Able to Build Out Its Spectrum?

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Dish’s spectrum buildout

In the previous part of this series, we discussed the possibility of Dish Network’s (DISH) buying more spectrum. In this part of the series, we’ll discuss Dish’s spectrum buildout requirements. Dish doesn’t have the experience to meet the buildout requirements for spectrum licenses.

According to FCC (Federal Communications Commission) regulations, a spectrum license can be revoked if a company fails to provide wireless service to a minimum of ~40% of the population in a particular geographic area during a stipulated time.

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Dish holds spectrum licenses for the AWS-4 (advanced wireless services) and H-Block spectrums. On the company’s 2Q16 earnings call, Dish said it believed that when it came to building out the spectrum, it was better to “build out with somebody else who’s also building out so you get some synergy in the build-out.”

3GPP’s approval of Dish’s Band-70

In June 2016, Dish announced that 3GPP (the 3rd Generation Partnership Project), a global wireless standards body, had approved Dish’s Band 70, which consists of three spectrum blocks. These spectrum blocks include Dish’s AWS-4 downlink spectrum, H-Block downlink spectrum, and unpaired AWS-3 uplink spectrum.

An approval from the global wireless standards body means that Band 70 will result in “the development of devices and infrastructure that supports Band 70.”

Dish also stated on its 2Q16 earnings call that 3GPP’s approval of its Band 70 meant that the company could earn revenue right from the day it launches its service, “as opposed to having to seed the market for years to get your spectrum in the handsets.”

Other telecommunications companies and spectrum holdings

For telecommunications companies, wireless spectrums are valuable assets. T-Mobile (TMUS) had low-band spectrum holdings in the 700 MHz (megahertz) A-Block spectrum spanning ~190 million people as of October 27, 2015. As of February 17, 2016, this figure had increased to ~210 million people.

The company claims that it signed agreements to acquire holdings spanning ~48 million people in the first two months of 2016.

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