Sprint withdrawal boosts Dish spectrum prospects

Sprint auction withdrawal boosts Dish spectrum prospects

14 NOV 2013
Dish Network

Satellite TV company Dish Network is now a leading contender to secure airwaves in a forthcoming auction, after US number three operator Sprint ruled itself out of the bidding.

The news follows T-Mobile US stating that it is not interested in taking part in the auction of H Block spectrum planned by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

The H block spectrum is a 10MHz block of paired airwaves between 1915 and 1920 MHz for the uplink and 1995 MHz and 2000 MHz for the downlink. Dish already controls spectrum that runs from 2000 MHz to 2200 MHz.

The withdrawal of the two operators boosts the prospects for Dish to secure the spectrum at a lower price.

According to Bloomberg, Dish has already offered a minimum bid of $1.56 billion with the condition that it is allowed to use the airwaves it already has more broadly, increasing its value and the appeal of Dish to investors.

Just two months ago, Sprint urged regulators to move quickly with the auction, but the company has now said it is focusing on acquiring lower-frequency spectrum to complement the airwaves it already has.

A Sprint representative told Bloomberg that the company is working to deploy licences it holds for 2.5GHz, 800MHz and 1.9MHz to provide “greater network speeds and capacity”.

The operator is working on a super-fast LTE network — called Spark — using airwaves it acquired when it bought Clearwire. Sprint aims to have the network operating in 100 of the largest US cities by 2016.

The sale of H Block spectrum for commercial use was mandated by Congress last year as a way to meet increasing wireless demand and raise funds for a national communications network for emergency services.

Dish Network chairman Charlie Ergen stated this week that his company still believes a purchase of T-Mobile US is a possibility. However, he also made clear that a T-Mobile US acquisition was only one of a number of options, which also include a partnership with a mobile operator.

Dish made an audacious bid to acquire Sprint earlier this year but was beaten by SoftBank.


Tim Ferguson

Tim joined Mobile World Live in August 2011 and works across all channels, with a particular focus on apps. He came to the GSMA with five years of tech journalism experience, having started his career as a reporter... More

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