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FCC lays out rules for Dish spectrum, H-Band auction

The Federal Communications Commission laid out rules for spectrum recently approved for use by Dish Networks, including build out requirements, as well as rules for 10 megahertz of spectrum it expects to auction off next year.

The government agency noted that Dish Networks, should it agree to accept the conditions on gaining control of 30 megahertz of spectrum in the 2 GHz band to launch terrestrial mobile services, would have to cover 40% of the population in those markets within four years and 70% of the market within 10 years. The FCC posted similar build out requirements for the 700 MHz auction in 2008, though the 10 year mark required 75% population coverage.

Dish has so far not commented as to whether it plans to take the FCC up on its offer since the decision last week, but has for some time said it plans to become a disruptive force in the wireless communications market. In order to meet that build out deadline, it’s likely Dish would partner with an established operator, taking advantage of already deployed infrastructure in order to reduce costs and speed time to market.

The FCC also said that plans to auction off 10 megahertz of spectrum in the 1.9 GHz band, also known as the H-Band, would be conducted on an economic area basis, and that license winners would be required to meet similar build out requirements of 40% population coverage within four years and 70% coverage within 10 years.

License winners will be allowed to lease access to that spectrum, but they will also have to pay Sprint Nextel a “pro rata” share of expenses previously paid by the carrier in connection with clearing previous tenants in that band. That clearing was associated with Sprint Nextel’s 800 MHz re-banding efforts that provided the carrier with 10 megahertz of spectrum in the G-Block adjacent to the H-Block in exchange for spectrum assets in the 800 MHz band.

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