Dish Network About to Score Big Win

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There are reports this afternoon that Dish Network Corp. (NASDAQ: DISH) will prevail in its application to offer mobile broadband service in part of its satellite broadcast spectrum. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chief Julius Genachowski and two other members of the five-member panel have reportedly agreed to approve Dish’s request. The reports are based on information from FCC staff members according to Bloomberg News.

About two weeks ago, Dish replied to a proposal from the FCC that would have required the company to broadcast its signal at less than full power saying that such a solution would cripple the the company’s ability to get into the wireless business. Dish has apparently agreed to a proposal that it set aside 5 MHz of its spectrum as a buffer, or “guard band,” to prevent interference with nearby spectrum, if the FCC will allow it to use its remaining spectrum quickly and without further restrictions.

If these reports are accurate, this is major coup for Dish. A securities analyst told Bloomberg News:

No matter how you slice it, this is a transformative outcome for Dish to expand beyond its pay-TV business. Even if Dish loses the spectrum interference battle it’s been fighting, it still got most of what it wanted from the FCC.

What Dish wants, ultimately, is to offer a bundled package of mobile phone, broadband, Internet, and pay TV service to its customers. Other satellite companies, cable companies, and wireless carriers are working toward the same goal, which has become something of a holy grail to the entire industry. Dish won’t be without competition, but without this ruling the company would have been at a severe disadvantage.

Shares of Dish Network are up about 1% in after-hours trading today, at $37.27 in a 52-week range of $24.89 to $37.92. A new 52-week high is possible tomorrow.

Paul Ausick

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