Thursday, January 26, 2012

Dish Eyeing LightSquared Business Model?

Dish Network recently stirred speculation about whether it now wants to expedite its construction of a national Long Term Evolution network, simply by indicating in a yet-private communication to the Federal Communications Commission that Dish wants to "revise" its plans. Revised plan?

Some have speculated that the request is to accelerate the proposed construction timetable, but that isn't clear. It might make sense, if Dish believes it now has a chance to supplant LightSquared as a major wholesale partner.

Dish Network needs an FCC waiver to use its satellite communications frequencies to support a terrestrial mobile network, as LightSquared also requires.

LightSquared has run into a wall because of interference with the Global Positioning System.  Dish's proposal is seen as less problematic, as the frequencies it acquired last year from bankrupt satellite operators TerreStar and DBSD North America are further away from the spectrum used by GPS systems. Dish the successor to LightSquared?

Some now speculate that Dish might seen an opening, if, as some speculate, LightSquared fails to gain approval to use its spectrum to support a terrestrial Long Term Evolution network. Up to this point, Dish Network has suggested it would use its spectrum to build and operate a retail network.

There is no reason in principle why Dish could not operate both as a wholesale provider and a retailer, but there always is channel conflict when firms do so. 

On the other hand, since LightSquared already has identified more than 30 wholesale customers, a Dish Network move to offer wholesale services would give Dish an immediate customer base and potential revenue, even if it decides there are retail branded operations it also wishes to support.

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