Letting Dish roll out LTE into its satellite frequencies will obliterate the value of neighbouring radio spectrum that the US government hopes to sell for billions, said the FCC.
FCC rep Justin Cole told Bloomberg that allowing Dish to deploy 4G would "take a public asset potentially worth billions of dollars and turn it into a private windfall", putting the wannabe mobile operator on the back foot. Dish is awaiting a green-light from the FCC to run its high-speed data network, and approval could come in the next few weeks.
Dish is hoping to get permission to deploy a 4G network in bands previously reserved for satellite phones, and - crucially - permission to deploy devices using those bands without any satellite capability at all. But the uplink band it wants to use, 2000 to 2020MHz, is right beside a 5MHz block that Sprint wants to buy and the FCC wants to sell.
With Dish right next door, that 5MHz chunk (which is paired with another 5MHz slot, one for each direction and both being alongside 5MHz chunks already owned by Sprint) will be limited to low-power cells, and Sprint is saying it won't bother bidding if it's not allowed to deploy at full power, which means shuffling Dish out of the way.
Not that either side is using technical arguments: Dish has been claiming that not letting it deploy will cost American jobs, but the FCC wants the money to help pay for the national first responders' network, FirstNet, and preserving lives trumps preserving jobs.
Dish reckons it's spent $4bn on "risk-based capital", and "remain[s] ready to work with the commission" regardless of how the vote goes, but these statements certainly don't lend much hope of success. ®