Without the merger of Sprint and T-Mobile, DISH Wireless might not be here, at least yet. The deal was a long, drug-out spectacle in wireless that would finally see all parties coming to a common ground while appeasing the government. Worried about a monopolization within the wireless industry and looking to be sure that DISH Wireless puts its growing spectrum collection to proper use, the FCC allowed the merger on the condition that DISH was allowed to purchase Boost Mobile and create a nationwide 5G network.
This would protect consumers and create competition. T-Mobile would gain established networks and a wealth of valuable spectrum, while Sprint would see billions of dollars for merging come through its door. DISH Wireless, on the other hand, would begin its journey and the government would protect consumers. A win-win-win-win-win situation…except not everyone was on board.
Plenty of entities applauded the move as a step forward for wireless but Public Knowledge, the public interest group that focuses on an open Internet and other means of communication, disapproved. Gigi Sohn, a previous CEO for Public Knowledge and a former counselor to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, would even go as far as to testify against the merger multiple times. In the end, however, Public Knowledge was unsuccessful. It seems that it is now water under the bridge, so to speak as, DISH Wireless is now receiving support from Public Knowledge on its efforts to have the FCC change the rules of the 12 GHz spectrum.
“We opposed the deal. We did not think that the spin-off was going to be sufficient to create four national competitors. But we lost. We lost in court. We lost before the agencies, so if the world that we live in is one where DISH is the company with the best chance of being a fourth national competitor, then we want it to succeed,” said Harold Feld, Senior VP at Public Knowledge.
Public Knowledge is a part of the DISH-led 5G for the 12 GHz Coalition. It launched with 20 members who are seeking to have the FCC modify the 12 GHz band of spectrum so that two-way communication would be allowed. This would make it possible for entities such as DISH Wireless to compete in 5G without as many hurdles to jump.
“While I’m not going to pretend that this would completely close the gap between DISH and the big three competitors, it’s certainly something that will help to close the gap and provide the opportunity to offer a competing network that can actually handle the number of customers that we would like to see a competing network have. I certainly would like to see DISH be big enough in order to be able to be a competitive threat,” said Feld.
Should the coalition get its way, 12 GHz becoming available would unlock 500 MHz of spectrum that can be used for 5G. The spectrum would be considered a mid-band spectrum, a sought-after band because of its balance of being able to deliver on speed while covering large service areas. Public Knowledge wants more spectrum for unlicensed purposes, it is not opposed to spectrum sharing, is even supporting DISH with its feud involving T-Mobile shutting down its CDMA network which will affect Boost Mobile customers. But many others disagree, notably, SpaceX, who have concerns involving its use of spectrum for its satellites and believe that 5G entering the space would be detrimental to its operations.
Seeing Public Knowledge come together with DISH Wireless is an encouraging sign for the wireless industry. 5G is still just beginning and consumers will need competition to fuel innovation, keep prices affordable, and gain coverage. As time goes by, we’ll be able to see how the FCC decides to play its hand. In the meantime, the 12 GHz spectrum arena will continue to fill with interested parties who are looking to use the spectrum in incredible fashion.
Source: Fierce Wireless