T-Mobile says Dish is hoarding spectrum, urges FCC to do something about it


T-Mobile has gone after Dish in a new FCC filing.

In a letter to the FCC, T-Mobile has explained to the FCC that the agency should push Dish to put the spectrum to productive use or strip Dish of its spectrum holdings because the company has not utilized them like it said it would. T-Mobile accuses Dish of hoarding spectrum licenses and argues that Dish “intends to continue to warehouse spectrum with no benefit to consumers.”

T-Mobile says that Dish’s plan to build a Narrowband Internet of Things (NB-IoT) network by 2020 would only use around 2 percent of its 95MHz of spectrum holdings. “Dish’s build out plan is nothing more than a scheme for the company to further warehouse valuable spectrum assets, and the Commission should not condone it,” T-Mo writes.

Later in the letter, T-Mobile goes after Dish’s plans for using its spectrum to build a mobile broadband network. As noted by FierceWireless, Dish has said that it plans to spend up to $10 billion to deploy a 5G network after it rolls out its nationwide NB-IoT network. “The fact that Dish may later use the spectrum for wireless broadband in Phase 2 does not excuse its failure to meet the required performance requirements now,” writes T-Mobile. “The Commission has been clear that licensees cannot be permitted to perpetually wait for the next big thing.”

T-Mobile then argued that while Dish’s plan is “no more than a cynical effort to hoard valuable spectrum assets,” T-Mo has been putting its spectrum to use to meet the growing demand for mobile broadband service. T-Mobile points to its rollout of 600MHz LTE coverage, which is now available in more than 1,250 markets following T-Mo’s acquisitions from an FCC spectrum auction in April 2017.

It remains to be seen how the FCC will respond to T-Mobile’s request, but it’s not too surprising to learn that T-Mo is going after Dish for what it feels is spectrum hoarding. T-Mobile wants more spectrum to help beef up its network — that’s also one of the main reasons it wants to acquire Sprint — and getting the FCC to strip Dish of its spectrum licenses would give T-Mo a chance to grow its spectrum holdings. It also probably doesn’t help that Dish has come out against T-Mobile’s proposed merger of Sprint.

To read T-Mobile’s full letter to the FCC regarding Dish and its spectrum, hit the link below.

Source: FierceWireless

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  • Hurlamania

    This letters a little late this has been hoarding Spectrum for years and getting away with it although I used to be a fan of Charlie it still doesn’t change the fact that they are hoarding

    • SirStephenH

      In the context of the letter, it’s right on time. Dish recently announced this effort to skirt the build out requirements and the letter directly addresses that effort, not its efforts to hoard spectrum as a whole.

  • John Doe

    T-Mobile would have a leg to stand on if they were not merging with Sprint and getting a lot of spectrum but I do agree with them I have been saying it all along when T-Mobile bought the 600MHz spectrum it was mostly in rural areas, Dish bought most of the ones in urban areas and with no purpose but to make themselves look good for a potential buyer and that is it.

    • JStatt

      Regardless of the Sprint merger, if Dish is holding spectrum just to be more attractive to outside buyers or to hold it for their own protection that would violate the FCC rules and T-Mo is right to complain.

    • Sean sorlie

      This is a serious time for spectrum with 5G deployments starting. Having a company sit on that much spectrum that is already assigned to mobile telecom is a problem.

      • Jay Holm

        Keywords “mobile Telecom”, what I don’t understand is Dish is a satellite provider, not a mobile Telecom carrier, they sell satwlsate tv, not servixs from cell towers.

        • Sean sorlie

          Its mobile assigned spectrum. They were rumored to be starting their own service but that has not happened.

    • SirStephenH

      It doesn’t matter if T-Mobile was merging with Sprint or not, the hoarding of spectrum negatively effects the entire industry and America as a whole. Besides, T-Mobile isn’t arguing that Dish’s spectrum should be given to T-Mobile. If the spectrum is taken away then it would be put back up for auction in which T-Mobile may or may not pick up more spectrum.

      T-Mobile went into the auction with the intent of acquiring enough band 71 so that it would have a minimum of 20+20MHz of low-band (bands 12 and 71) nationwide which it accomplished. It then bought up cheap licenses, which were all rural of course, with its remaining funds. Low-band bandwidth isn’t even close to as important in metro areas as it is in rural areas. Metro areas have a very dense network and low-band is used merely for penetration while rural areas rely very heavily in low-band for coverage as well as penetration. T-Mobile did the smart thing and invested its money where it would have the most effect.

  • Jeff Ley

    I’ve thought this for a long time. Use it or loose it is the rule. Time for the FCC to step up an enforce the rules. Go T-Mobile!

  • Glenn Gore

    T-Mobile is trying to put a little pressure on Dish, which is probably a good thing, but Dish has until sometime in 2020 and 2021 to “use it or lose it” the spectrum they have amassed over the years. And considering the requirements for each individual type of spectrum they own are different, some only requiring 10-20% of either land-area or population be actually covered in order for the entire license block to be considered “served”, Dish might actually be able to meet those requirements with only a very small number of sites being built, sites that don’t actually do anything but emit a small carrier signal for verification purposes, such as what King Street and US Cellular have done for years with their 700A spectrum, and thus be able to sit on that spectrum forever. It’s a very sad situation seeing that spectrum go unused when it is such a valuable resource, but that’s the law and it evidently cannot be changed.

    • SirStephenH

      Yeah, but T-Mobile makes a good point that what Dish is planning isn’t a good faith effort to meet the build out requirements but is in fact simply a ploy to allow them to continue to hoard spectrum. The FCC could still take away Dish’s spectrum for that reason.

  • riverhorse

    I always thought Dish would be a better acquisition than Sprint.

    • ericdabbs

      Than you are an idiot and very misinformed. Sprint has more spectrum and value to offer than Dish network. Merger with sprint will bring many synergies including bulking up tmobile’s PCS spectrum holdings, the vast 2.5 GHz spectrum holdings which are beachfront spectrum for 5G, the cell tower equipment and customers. Dish’s spectrum portfolio outside of the 600 MHz spectrum they bought are just a hodge podge of spectrum of which Tmobile would need to purchase all new cell tower equipment to support the 2 GHz S-band, PCS H block and the useless 700 MHz E block spectrum. None of which any of the other major carriers support.

      Dish is a trash company and is a dying satellite cable business. Tmobile has every right to go after Dish and their shady spectrum hoarding ways. I just hope the FCC can force Dish to give up its 600 MHz spectrum at some point in the future so that Tmobile can re-bid on it and obtain more 600 MHz spectrum.

      • SirStephenH

        Wow, all you got is insults?

        Sprint has a “hodge podge of spectrum of which Tmobile would need to purchase all new cell tower equipment to support”. Bands 26 and 41 would be entirely new to T-Mobile and would require new equipment to deploy, band 25 would require T-Mobile to adopt a new superseding band for band 2 which could be done in software on T-Mobile’s end but would require phone support, band 10 would be wrapped up into band 66 which T-Mobile already uses.

        Dish’s spectrum lines up much more nicely with T-Mobile’s holdings. Most of Dish’s holdings are actually in bands 66 and 71 which are the backbone of T-Mobile’s network and do not require new equipment to deploy. Unpaired spectrum is not “useless”, it can be used for upload and download or be used only as upload or download if more capacity is needed for one or the other. Unpaired spectrum would be of great use for fixed broadband which T-Mobile is planning on deploying. AWS-4 and PCS block H are included in band 70 which allows for the pairing of most of the previously unpaired spectrum (15+25 u/d). Band 70 is close enough to T-Mobile’s existing bands that it could likely be deployed on existing equipment with a software patch.

        • JG

          I’m by far an expert on this topic… But putting aside for a moment which company’s spectrum holdings would best match T-Mobile’s….

          Bands 26 and 41 would be entirely new to T-Mobile and would require new equipment to deploy,

          Would they actually need to acquire new hardware?

          Unlike Dish, Sprint is, I believe, actually utilizing their spectrum holdings. In other words, Sprint has the equipment necessary to broadcast on these bands. When/if Sprint gets acquired by T-Mobile, T-Mobile would come into possession of these radios.

          Depending on which towers they’re going to keep and which they’re going to sell off etc… At most, they’d simply need someone to climb a Sprint tower, disconnect the radios, climb the neighboring T-Mobile tower and hook it up… No?

        • SirStephenH

          Sprint is utilizing *most* of its spectrum, a lot is unused and wasted depending on the location. The spectrum they do utilize is not utilized efficiently.

          T-Mobile has said that 35,000 towers from the combined company will be shut down and the vast majority of those will be Sprint towers. In other words T-Mobile will not be keeping the majority of Sprint’s towers. T-Mobile is also planning on replacing most of the equipment that Sprint has installed to bring it in line with T-Mobile’s network, some of the replacements will even be of equipment that the government required Sprint to replace but Sprint ignored the deadline for replacing. T-Mobile’s towers do not support Sprint’s bands so equipment will have to be added and/or replaced in order to utilize the new spectrum.

          On the Dish side, most of the spectrum is compatible with the hardware already installed on T-Mobile’s towers so it could be utilized with a software update.

      • riverhorse

        Erica, my condolences for whichever occurred to you:
        1. Getting fired from Dish, without a pension or severance.
        2. Nest egg dwindled with fall of Dish share price.

        May help to short their stock with whatever funds you can scrape up.

        3. Dish tech molested you or one of yours during install.

        Hot shower may help.

        And for revenge, try DirectTV.

  • Mike McDonald

    Charlie Ergen is well known as a guy who doesn’t blink during negotiations. Numerous networks have been dropped during retransmission agreement renewals. The Weather Channel comes to mind plus Viacom, although Shari Redstone specifically sought Ergen out to mend fences not too long ago and I see they are back on again.

    My guess is TMo has tried to make a deal w/ Ergen and he is likely asking far, far too much for his holdings. BTW, Ergen used to have super voting majority so he pretty much owns it. Tmo is trying to use the FCC to drive the cost down. And it’s not just Tmo who’s interested in Dish/Dish spectrum.

    • SirStephenH

      T-Mobile, as well as other companies, have tried making deals with Dish but Dish always overvalues its holdings and demands far too much so deals always fall through.

      T-Mobile isn’t trying to drive the cost down, Dish has made it clear that it has no intention of selling off its spectrum in the foreseeable future. T-Mobile is trying to get the hoarded spectrum taken away and re-auctioned so it can be used and not wasted. The end effect would be that T-Mobile would get a crack at obtaining more spectrum, possibly at a lower price than Dish values it.

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