The Federal Communications Commission finally approved Dish Network’s proposal to use its spectrum to build a terrestrial 4G network, ending Dish’s year-long lobbying effort. The ruling comes with some restrictions — Dish can’t use a small band of spectrum because of interference concerns, among other stipulations — but the satellite TV provider now has the green light to launch services to compete with Verizon Wireless and AT&T.
As my colleague Kevin Fitchard notes, however, it’s still not clear that Dish truly wants to become a mobile network operator. Dish may simply flip its spectrum to another carrier now that it can be used for mobile communications, pocketing a hefty sum and walking away from wireless.
I still think Dish wants to be a player in mobile, however. Doing so would place it in the enviable position of being able to deliver content and services via satellite, mobile and fixed-line web, which could give it big bundling advantages. But while Dish’s spectrum holdings are impressive, they’re not enough to enable it to become a nationwide player on the scale of the tier-one operators. So it still will need to find a partner if it truly wants to take on the major U.S. operators.