To meet the growing demand for mobile broadband access which is due to the increased use of mobile devices, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently initiated a proposal to make satellite communications available for mobile broadband access. The proposal will help Dish Network, one of the largest satellite providers, to diversify its services by offering a mobile broadband wireless network to cell phone users.
The proposal to make mobile broadband available via satellite airwaves is one of several initiatives by the FCC to meet the demand for mobile devices such as smartphones, tablet PCs, and other mobile technology. The increased use of mobile devices have created a need to free up more space for mobile broadband access while preventing possible interferences with other airwave technology.
FCC Initiatives and Dish Network
In recent years the Federal Communications Commission has been highly focused on increasing broadband availability while preventing possible issues that surround the increased use of mobile devices in terms of airwave interference. Meanwhile, Dish Network has been seeking to diversify the number of services it offers to its customer base in addition to offering satellite television.
Early in 2011 Dish Network acquired TerreStar, a mobile satellite provider, and DBSD, a satellite provider in the United States that was recovering from a previous bankruptcy, in an effort to expand its digital network. DBSD and TerreStar are considered to be valuable assets by Dish Network because they provide access to broadband spectrums.
With an increased number of broadband spectrums Dish Network can expand its wireless networks to accommodate the growing demand for voice and data communications. Earlier this month the FCC granted Dish Network a license to obtain the broadband spectrum but refused Dish Network’s bid to acquire a waiver which would allow the satellite provider to construct a global wireless network.
Instead of granting the waiver, the Federal Communications Commission introduced a policy making procedure that may delay the progress of the wireless assets that Dish Network has recently acquired. The reason for the policy making process is the result of lawmakers that granted a waiver to LightSquared LP whose primary goal is to provide global wireless broadband connectivity.
In response to the granted waiver to LightSquared, the FCC has proposed retraction of the waiver to LightSquared LP which allows the company to implement a satellite spectrum for a cellular network which is ground based. The FCC is concerned about the interference the network will pose on the Global Positioning System (GPS) which is vital to public airlines, military operations, and government agencies.
The spectrum which will be implemented by Dish Network does not pose any issues with GPS interference due to the fact it is on a completely different spectrum band. The FCC claims there may be minor interference but nothing close to the interference imposed by LightSquared. The only problem that now remains is how the FCC will move forward in making this change since doing so can place some restrictions on Dish Network.
Meanwhile, Dish Network has remained positive in the fact that the FCC granted the license and they are eager to work with the FCC and expedite the process to accommodate the mobile consumer.
FCC Considerations on Airwave Regulations
The FCC is also considering another decision which is related to previous initiative for freeing up wireless airwave space to accommodate the increased use of mobile devices while reducing concerns with interference. About four year years ago, television broadcasters reclaimed a portion of airwaves and the FCC is now considering new regulations and policies that require mobile devices that operate on these airwaves to work on the networks for all carriers.
Larger cellular carriers such as Verizon argued against the new potential FCC regulations saying that the interference would prevent the further development of compatible devices by Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs). On the other end of the argument are the smaller carriers that claim larger carriers such as Verizon and AT&T encouraged mobile device manufacturers to design handsets that are incompatible with other networks which would make it more difficult for their competitors to acquire the newer devices for their customer base.
A recent survey of consumers and public interest groups pointed to the fact that everyone should be able to use the latest mobile devices on the newest spectrum bands offered by any type of carrier service. It was also felt that it should not be necessary to purchase another handset just because you decide to change cellular phone carriers.
As a result of the arguments, the Federal Communications Commission is currently reviewing the claims made on both sides of the argument plus the overall feeling of public interest groups. The FCC will then decide on how to proceed if the interference claims are found to be a valid argument.
As the situation currently stands, a solution has not yet been implemented so the process has been led primarily by the FCC along with the influence of a few telecommunications industry leaders.
In terms of the license granted to Dish Network, the company already has a significant amount of spectrum however, with the spectrum acquired from DBSD and TerreStar it will make it easier for Dish Network to create a 4G LTE network. The spectrum is also capable of supporting both wired lines and wireless services while enhancing the capabilities and performance of mobile devices.
Looking forward, Dish Network also views the acquisition and the spectrum license as an effort to assist the administration and the Federal Communications Commission with solving the current “spectrum crunch” posed by the increased use of mobile devices.