Dish Planning 4G Wireless Network, FCC Documents Show

The company has been buying up spectrum

Dish Network has been buying up broadband spectrum during the past year, acquiring nearly $3 billion worth. The satellite TV provider has remained mostly mum on the subject, but according to CNET, Dish is planning to use that spectrum to branch out into 4G.

Yesterday, Dish applied for a waiver to the Federal Communications Commission that would allow it to use its newly acquired spectrum to build a 4G LTE Advanced wireless network, Credit Suisse analyst Jonathan Chaplin said in a research note. The company is committed to a “realistic” build-out schedule, he added.

The satellite provider is joining a number of recent entrants—including LightSquared and Clearwire—into the 4G race, which, until recently, had been dominated by traditional wireless carriers.

Dish was able to grab a discounted chunk of spectrum earlier this year when it acquired bankrupt satellite companies TerreStar and DBSD. In yesterday’s FTC application, Dish asked that it be allowed to combine the two licenses to create a new network.

In its application, Dish said that it is “willing to commit to 'certain substantial terrestrial network deployment commitments,’” said Chaplin. But other than promising nationwide and rural coverage, the application doesn’t reveal many details of Dish’s plan. Chaplin said that the company’s best bet might be to team with an established wireless carrier like Sprint to build out the network.