FCC moves ahead on Dish wireless plan

The Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday took a step forward into turning satellite spectrum held by Dish Network into a terrestrial wireless network, with a notice that it intends to investigate the plan and vote on whether to approve the license.

The agency also moved a step closer to requiring all devices on 4G LTE networks on the 700 MHZ band work between carriers —an important step for consumers and small providers who have fought for easier transfer of devices among networks.

The decision on Dish’s satellite spectrum comes after the FCC’s recent decision to revoke permission granted to troubled LightSquared for a similar plan after that company’s network ran into major interference problems with global position service providers.

Analysts say Dish’s network is on a different spectrum band and isn’t expected to run into similar interference problems.

“The question is how the FCC will go about making this change, particularly the requirements it could impose on Dish,”said David Kaut, an analyst at Stifel Nicolas. “There may be some interference issues, but they appear nothing like those faced by LightSquared.”

The FCC has been looking for more ways to provide broadband access, particularly in rural areas where satellite spectrum reaches well.

FCC chairman Julius Genachowski championed LighSquared's plan for those reasons. He now finds himself as the subject of investigations by Congressional Republicans who say the agency appeared to fast-track a plan that wasn't properly vetted.

Related:

Sprint ends hosting deal with LightSquared

FCC to pull plug on Falcone’s LightSquared

Cecilia Kang is a staff writer covering the business of media and entertainment.

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