Dish Network has submitted a request to utilize the 12 GHz spectrum for fixed terrestrial broadband services within the United States. This comes on the heels of regulatory authorities rejecting Dish Network’s previous proposal for mobile services in the same spectrum band due to concerns about potential interference with other satellite operators.
Dish’s pursuit of fixed broadband services in this spectrum range is driven by the belief that providing services to stationary locations, rather than to mobile customers, would substantially reduce the risk of interference with other users of the same spectrum. Jeff Blum, Dish’s Executive Vice President of External and Legislative Affairs, highlighted that the predictability of fixed locations simplifies coordination and sharing efforts, in contrast to the dynamic nature of mobile users.
This endeavor is part of Dish Network’s larger strategic plan, and it involves collaborating with RS Access, a spectrum holding company. Together, they aim to upgrade their existing licenses in the 12 GHz band to offer terrestrial 5G services, contributing to the evolving landscape of connectivity and communication.
Originally, Dish Network had intended to use frequencies spanning from 12.2 to 12.7 GHz, which fall within the Ku-band, for a high-power, two-way mobile service that would support its expanding wireless network across the United States. However, concerns arose from satellite operators such as SpaceX’s Starlink and OneWeb, who use these frequencies for user terminal connections in their satellite broadband networks. These operators voiced worries about potential disruption to their services if Dish’s mobile service plan proceeded.
In response to these concerns and recognizing the challenges associated with sharing frequencies in a mobile context, Dish Network has shifted its focus to fixed terrestrial broadband services in the same spectrum. This shift reflects the company’s commitment to finding a viable solution that minimizes interference while still harnessing the benefits of the 12 GHz spectrum for delivering efficient and reliable broadband connectivity to customers across the United States.
Dish Network’s competitor in satellite broadcasting, DirecTV, primarily owned by U.S. telecommunications giant AT&T, has also voiced concerns that millions of its customers would face significant detrimental interference if Dish Network’s mobile service proposal were to proceed.
Both Dish Network and DirecTV currently utilize frequencies within the spectrum band for delivering linear television programming to their customers.
Dish Network, alongside RS Access and other participants of the 5G for 12 GHz Coalition, had initially contended that mobile services could coexist harmoniously with other users of the spectrum. However, despite these claims and numerous interference studies, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) made the decision in May to reject their mobile service plan.
In response, the 5G for 12 GHz Coalition submitted a formal regulatory filing to the FCC on August 9. This filing advocates for an alternative approach, suggesting that the FCC should consider opening up the frequencies ranging from 12.2 to 12.7 GHz for the provision of high-powered, two-way fixed broadband services instead. This new approach aims to address the concerns raised by various stakeholders while still harnessing the potential of the 12 GHz spectrum for delivering enhanced broadband connectivity services.
In addition to the discussions surrounding the 12.2-12.7 GHz spectrum, the FCC has proposed the potential for flexible terrestrial wireless usage in the adjacent 12.7-13.25 GHz spectrum range.
The proposal to allocate more than 1,000 MHz of spectrum spanning from 12.2 GHz to 13.25 GHz for terrestrial communications holds the promise of positioning the United States as a frontrunner in global 5G competitiveness. The coalition supporting this initiative emphasized the potential for the U.S. to surpass international rivals, including China, and regain a leadership role in the advancement of 5G technology.
While Dish Network currently does not offer fixed broadband services, its affiliated company, EchoStar, does provide such services through a constellation of geostationary satellites. Notably, Dish Network and EchoStar recently unveiled plans to merge their operations, aiming to integrate their terrestrial and space-based connectivity solutions.
Despite the discourse surrounding these developments, representatives from SpaceX, OneWeb, and DirecTV have not provided official statements or comments concerning their intentions to deliver high-powered, two-way fixed broadband services within the 12 GHz spectrum band.