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Why Dish Expects Growing Support for Band 66 Configuration

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Jan. 18 2017, Updated 7:37 a.m. ET

Dish and wireless spectrum licenses

For companies like Dish Network (DISH), wireless spectrum licenses are a valuable asset. Since 2008, the company has invested ~$5 billion in acquiring wireless spectrum licenses. Dish holds spectrum licenses for AWS-4 (advanced wireless services) and H-Block spectrums.

Last year, Dish announced that the 3GPP (Third 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,” according to a Business Wire press release.

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Dish relies heavily on chipset suppliers such as Qualcomm (QCOM) to supply chipsets that support Band 66 and Band 70 configurations. These chipsets, used in electronic devices such as mobile phones, enable pay-TV operators to earn revenue from the day they launch wireless services. In its fiscal 3Q16 earnings call, Dish stated that it expects that many Android electronic devices will support the Band 66 configuration in 2017. Band 66 consists of Band-4 spectrum, which includes AWS spectrum from Block A to F. Band 66 is primarily used for mobile phones in the United States.

Other telecommunications companies and spectrum holdings

For telecommunications companies, wireless spectrum is a valuable asset. T-Mobile (TMUS) has a solid spectrum position, holding a total spectrum depth of ~86 MHz (megahertz) in the top 25 US markets as of the end of 3Q16. According to T-Mobile, its spectrum is made up of “an average of 12 MHz in the 700 MHz band, 30 MHz in the 1900 MHz PCS band, and 44 MHz in the AWS band.”

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