Dish Network has opted to designate all the 40 MHz bands of their AWS-4 spectrum for downlink operations as part of a move to boost the value of these frequencies. They announced that they expect that the 3GPP will approve Band 70 to combine unpaired AWS-3, AWS-4, and H Block airwaves to a single spectrum.
Nevertheless, it should be noted that Band 70 consists of Dish’s current AWS-4 spectrum (2000 MHz to 2020 MHz), their H block downlink spectrum (1995 MHz to 2000 MHz), and unpaired AWS-3 uplink spectrum. “Consumer trends clearly support the efficient combination of different spectrum blocks into a single, asymmetric band,” said Tom Cullen, Dish’s executive vice president of corporate development. “Moreover, our AWS-4 election leads to a better coexistence with the adjacent downlink PCS operations. We’re pleased with the working group level completion of Band 70 as these standards efforts are a necessary step in developing the ecosystem.”
Walter Piecyk of BTIG Research said that dedicating AWS-4 as a downlink spectrum is a move that improves the usability and value of it. “By pairing what was auctioned as uplink-only spectrum with its excess downlink spectrum, Dish has materially increased the usability of that spectrum and therefore its value. Dish was uniquely positioned to execute on this plan based on its existing assets.”
“While the process was lengthy, it will have tangible benefits to the industry as spectrum previously thought of as unusable can now play a critical role in providing additional wireless data capacity. We believe this spectrum can fully utilize densified wireless networks, including small cells, a benefit that low band spectrum does not share,” Piecyk added.
The buyers interested in Dish’s spectrum are Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile, but the airwaves could be used by any business like Comcast, Facebook, or Google. “In as little as three months and likely not longer than six, Dish will be able to re-engage in strategic discussions because of the conclusion of the incentive auction,” Piecyk said in a press release. “The official banding of its spectrum and lack of sizable spectrum alternatives leaves few if any hurdles for Dish. We believe investors should own the stock before that happens.”