Dish Network slams slow FCC on wireless approval

Dish Network chairman Charlie Ergen said Wednesday he was disappointed federal regulators were sitting on his company’s application to launch a wireless network, even as the agency approves other industry deals.

“The government does pick winners and losers,” Ergen said in a question and answer session after his keynote speech at the Wireless Infrastructure Show in Orlando. Ergen said he spent nearly $4 billion on 40 megahertz of spectrum four years ago to be used for a terrestrial high-speed Internet network to compete with major national carriers, but the application remains in regulatory limbo.

“That is the riskiest part of my business. It’s what keeps me up at night,” Ergen said.

Ergen said he had planned to build out a network from scratch, but as Verizon and AT&T widen their lead in snapping up 4G LTE wireless customers, Dish may have to partner with a wireless provider instead.

Dish has watched with dismay as the FCC approves other deals, including Verizon’s acquisition of spectrum from cable companies, he said..

If the company isn’t able to get approvals, the company may even be forced to sell the airwaves.

“We have a responsibility to shareholders,” Ergen said.

Ergen, who built Dish as a competitor to cable television providers, said the video industry isn’t growing. Instead, the company has bet its business on satellite and terrestrial broadband services.

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Cecilia Kang is a senior technology correspondent for The Washington Post.

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