Americans just can't get enough smartphones. And the cell phone companies just can't get enough bandwidth to service all the smartphones they've sold. But Dish Network, the satellite TV provider, just may crack the market wide open, muscling in on Verizon, AT&T and Sprint.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has given unanimous approval to Dish's plans to use some of its satellite spectrum to build a new cellular network, adding new capacity to the crowded airwaves.
"These actions will help meet skyrocketing consumer demand and promote private investment, innovation, and competition, while unlocking billions of dollars of value," FCC spokeswoman Tammy Sun said, as agency chairman Julius Genachowski testified on Capitol Hill.
In prepared remarks, Genachowski said the FCC is committed to taking final action that clears the way for Dish's entry into the lucrative market.
Although Dish will be using some of its satellite spectrum, the cell phone network will be ground-based, eliminating the time lag that makes satellite telephones balky because of the delay in relaying signals to and from the satellites.
“The FCC has removed outdated regulations and granted terrestrial flexibility ... We appreciate the hard work and focus of the FCC and its staff throughout this process," said Jeff Blum, DISH senior vice president and deputy general counsel. "The Commission has taken an important step toward facilitating wireless competition and innovation, and fulfilling the goals of the National Broadband Plan."
The commission has been working to open up new spectrum space for smartphones and wireless broadband use. It is expected to auction a block of frequencies adjacent to Dish's existsing segment. Sprint Nextel is expected to be among the bidders.