Though his time as FCC Commissioner is coming to an end shortly, Ajit Pai is looking to leave the organization with a lot to consider that could send shockwaves throughout the wireless industry. Before stepping down on January 20, 2021, when Joe Biden is inaugurated as President of the United States, Pai is circulating a draft Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that could favor DISH Wireless and its pursuit of a path to using spectrum on the 12 GHz band.
“The current rules governing the 12 GHz Band are outdated, inefficient, and ripe for review in today’s 5G world. DISH Wireless, along with other 12 GHz license holders, public interest groups, and trade associations, (have) called for the review of these antiquated rules, and we thank the Commission for circulating a neutral NPRM,” said a statement from DISH Network’s Jeff Blum, the Executive Vice President of External and Legislative Affairs. He continued, “The 12 GHz band represents 500 megahertz of spectrum that is suited for terrestrial, two-way 5G use cases while being able to protect DBS operations. We look forward to working with the Commission as it considers the NPRM to determine the best use of the band to further close the digital divide and advance our nation’s position in the race to 5G.”
DISH Wireless is in support of the move as it continues to build out its 5G network to become the next major wireless provider throughout the United States. After years of collecting spectrum, a huge year in 2020 by adding more through auctions, and the purchase of Boost Mobile which led to the official formation of DISH Wireless as a DISH Network brand, there is still a lot of work to do. To avoid a multi-billion fine, DISH Wireless will need to cover 75% of the American’s markets with its 5G network by June 2023. The NPRM is a response from the FCC to a petition for rulemaking created in April 2016 by the MVDDS 5G Coalition. DISH Wireless and many others are looking to create a viable path to make 12 GHz more accessible to mobile companies.
Conflict arises when we consider that not everyone using the 12 GHz spectrum is within the mobile arena with a specific focus on SpaceX. The brainchild of CEO Elon Musk, who would end up calling Commissioner Pai to discuss his concerns last year, has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in its Starlink service, a broadband provider that uses satellites to transmit the Internet to its subscribers. The company relies on the 12 GHz band and believes that while the NPRM is supposed to strike a balance on the rights and access between current users and others looking to join such as DISH Wireless, it will hinder their operations instead.
Many organizations that are for the NPRM point to the idea that SpaceX was warned not to solely rely on the 12 GHz band before even launching its satellites into space and that coexisting is a realistic option. The NPRM will also explore the costs versus the benefits of allowing access to mobile providers on the 12 GHz band. There are a lot of considerations and different methods that are being discussed but if it is successful, the NPRM could be a lasting outcome from Pai that will help DISH Wireless and others in the present and well into the future.
Source: Fierce Wireless