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FCC Schedules Public Vote on Dish Spectrum Item

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has put votes on the Dish item and an associated item on service rules for the H block on the agenda for its Dec. 12 meeting.

Initially, the item was circulated for a vote among the commissioners -- though without the chairman's own vote yet cast -- but Genachowski caught some flak for not voting it in public, along with the flak he got for circulating the ownership item rather than schedule it for a public vote. So far, only Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel has voted on the Dish item.

Both items will free up spectrum for wireless broadband through loosening restrictions on terrestrial use of satellite spectrum, including by licenseholder Dish, and setting up rules for auction of spectrum adjacent to Dish's.

Dish chairman Charlie Ergen has complained that the FCC is putting interference restrictions on the company's spectrum that damage his business plan for a 4G wireless service. He has since offered to accept those restrictions, which would make a quarter of his 20 MHz holdings into a guard band for the adjacent H block, but only on condition that the FCC reduce restrictions on the other 15 MHz and make it available ASAP.

Dish had initially sought a waiver, but the FCC put that on hold for a year and a half while it teed up rule changes for the entire 40 MHz in the 2 GHZ band.

If the item is changed before a vote, Rosenworcel will have to essentially revote by signing off -- or not -- on those changes.