Dish Network is asking the Federal Communications Commission for a special temporary authorization to use 600 MHz band spectrum currently licensed to Bluewater Wireless for a three month period with the aim of carrying out 5G tests in Denver and Las Vegas using carrier aggregation technology in the 600 MHz band.
Dish added that Bluewater has provided written consent for this authorization. Dish made its request to the FCC in the form of a letter, because the FCC’s typical STA process doesn’t allow applications to use 600 MHz spectrum that is licensed to someone else.
“The Bluewater licenses that are the subject of this request are in two of the markets where Dish is validating and testing equipment for its new Open-RAN compliant 5G broadband network. DISH will use this additional spectrum to test carrier aggregation functionality paired with Dish-licensed 600 MHz spectrum. Dish is unable to adequately test CA using only its own licensed spectrum due to insufficient bandwidth in the two test markets and because the contemplated CA tests require non-contiguous 600 MHz spectrum blocks,” the operator said in its filing to FCC.
Dish is in process of building a nationwide cloud-native, Open RAN-based 5G broadband network. The operator has entered into multi-year agreements with over 30 partners, including Mavenir, Altiostar, Amazon, Dell, VMWare, Nokia, Fujitsu, MTI, Intel, and Qualcomm for this network deployment.
“In both Denver and Las Vegas, Dish holds the 600 MHz F and G blocks, providing contiguous blocks of paired 5×5 MHz licenses. However, Dish anticipates needing more lowband spectrum in some markets to meet customer demand in the future. When and if additional 600 MHz spectrum becomes available, either when the Commission auctions unassigned spectrum or through future partnerships, Dish plans to use carrier aggregation at the market level to combine multiple 600 MHz assets to add capacity and improve data throughput speeds,” Dish wrote in its filing.
“To realize this goal, DISH needs to conduct CA testing in a real-world environment using the specific radios and handsets developed by its vendors for its 5G broadband network. And to test 600 MHz CA, DISH requires non-contiguous spectrum blocks. Bluewater’s A Block licenses in Denver and Las Vegas meet this need,” the operator added.
Dish also said that the company is seeking access to additional spectrum resources “to enhance its buildout and offer 5G service with sufficient speed and capacity to compete with the incumbent carriers.”
Dish Network expects to launch 5G wireless services in Las Vegas in a beta phase during the fourth quarter of the year, the company’s Chairman Charlie Ergen previously said during a conference call with investors.
The executive said that the 5G network in Las Vegas is in the final phase of construction and that the 5G beta service will last a minimum of three months, during which the operator plans to gather customer feedback and troubleshoot issues as its 5G technology transitions from the lab to the real world.
In an investor filing, Dish had said that it expects its 5G network in Las Vegas to be completed by the end of the third quarter.