Weakening Cartel: Dish TV Morphing Into Dish TV and Mobile?

Written by Larry Press

DishTV won FCC approval to use spectrum they already own for LTE cellular communication instead of TV broadcast. Larry Press looks at what this could mean for the mobile market.

Dish TV has won FCC approval to use spectrum it already owns for LTE cellular communication — instead of TV broadcast, the Financial Times reported last week.

But the approval came with strings in the form of a caveat regarding power limitations to avoid interference with adjacent spectrum that the FCC plans to auction next year.

That spectrum will also be used for LTE.

From Dish’s perspective, it was not all good news. The firm cautioned that power restrictions could “cripple our ability to enter the business.” Perhaps it is hoping to negotiate with the FCC over those restrictions.

The Wall Street Journal reported that Dish may partner with Google to form a mobile communication company.Another option: Dish will sell the spectrum, which is now worth more than it was before the FCC approval.

Dish’s move resembles the recent case in which the FCC turned down LightSquared, a startup seeking to offer LTE service using spectrum adjacent to GPS frequencies.

LightSquared has presented a new proposal to the FCC, asking permission to share frequencies that are used by weather balloons.

Dish may provide some competition for the mobile cartel, but, then again, it has not exactly driven the price of broadcast TV down. In the meantime, others have joined the fray.

Google may join in with or without Dish.  LightSquared may get a second chance. And T-Mobile and Metro PCS will want to compete and virtual mobile operators like Virgin and Ting are offering cut-rate prices.

Regardless, with all the activity, the cartel is weakening …