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FCC, Dish Square Off Over Spectrum Plan

WASHINGTON — Dish Network and the Federal Communications Commission have taken off the gloves in response to an agency proposal allowing the satellite-TV operator to use its spectrum to deliver terrestrial 4G mobile broadband service, but with restrictions on some of that bandwidth.

Dish said those restrictions would cripple its plans, while the FCC said Dish wants to destroy the value of adjacent spectrum, which the restrictions are meant to protect, in order to reap a private windfall.

As reported on two weeks ago, FCC chairman Julius Genachowski has circulated an order allowing Dish and others to use satellite spectrum for terrestrial broadband. Responding to “reported accounts” that the proposal would put limitations on Dish’s use of its 40 Megahertz of that spectrum, the company said that those limitations on its power and emissions would “cripple” its ability to do business.

At press time, the chairman and member Jessica Rosenworcel had reportedly voted to approve the item.

Genachowski released both an item allowing for terrestrial use of Dish’s spectrum and one seeking comment on the legislatively mandated auction of the currently unused H-Block spectrum.

According to sources, the AWS-4 item requires Dish to take steps to mitigate interference with potential users of the H Block, an adjacent band.

Dish says that if it has to render some of its spectrum unusable to accommodate “possible future use,” it could add years to the process of launching a wireless business.

“In arguing that the commission should destroy the value of the H Block, Dish is seeking to take a public asset potentially worth billions of dollars and turn it into a private windfall,” an FCC spokesman said.

Dish responded that it has “invested more than $4 billion in risk-based capital and stands ready to invest billions more to provide American consumers an innovative competitor in the wireless space.”

The satellite-TV firm said its proposal was “not a windfall” and said its approach “promotes a successful H-Block auction and puts us on a course to invest billions and create tens of thousands of jobs.”