Some public interest groups have asked the FCC to put
conditions on any grant of terrestrial wireless broadband licenses for spectrum
that had been reserved for satellite-delivered service.
They support creating a new wireless broadband competitor, but
do not want it to be a multibillion dollar windfall for private industry at the
expense of the public.
The FCC is proposing to grant the same kind of permanent
waiver to Dish for terrestrial use of satellite spectrum that it tried to grant
to LightSquared. That LightSquared waiver, which is being rescinded over GPS
interference issues, had included build-out requirements, limits on the resale
of the spectrum to AT&T or Verizon and other conditions not currently
proposed by the FCC on DirecTV.
Like LightSquared, Dish wants to be able to provide both the
hybrid satellite-terrestrial receivers, as well as terrestrial-only to those
who do not want the satellite function. "Allowing TerreStar and Dish to
provide single-mode terrestrial terminals to customers who have no need for
satellite functions will achieve significant public benefits, and will do so by
better serving the important, underlying policy," Dish told the FCC in its
application last August.
Satellite operators have long coveted the bundled service
offerings of video and broadband that have turned cable operators into some of
the nation's largest ISPs. Dish says it wants to be a check on the market power
of mobile providers present and future.
But unlike LightSquared, which is offering a wholesale
service that would be offered to Dish's cable competitors, among others, Dish's
network will be a branded offering to its subscribers.
Public Knowledge, New America Foundation and Consumers Union
told the FCC in comments on that proposal
that the commission would be essentially boosting the value of that DirecTV by
billions of dollars without competitive bidding, so would need to condition
that waiver to provide compensatory public interest benefits.
Among the conditions they want on the DirecTV waiver are
that it wholesale or provide roaming opportunities for outside entities for up
to 50% of capacity, but get FCC permission if that outside entity is one of the
two biggest mobile data carriers -- currently that is Verizon and AT&T. And
if the FCC Okays that deal and it comes within the first five years, they think
there should be an "unjust enrichment" penalty.
They also want a build-out requirement that the spectrum be
available for unlicensed use until such time as service actually begins.
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