I decided to reread the Federal Communications Commission’s notice of proposed rule making on inter-operability in the 700 MHz band. Some commenters believe that a Dish Networks, Sprint combo would be a great fit given that their spectrum would be compatible and complement each other.
Dish bought some spectrum in the lower 700 for $712 million back in 2008 and argued to the FCC in an ex-parte meeting with staff that attempts to change power level rules in the E-block would negatively impact its intent to provide video services in the band and that current rules do not adversely impact inter-operability in the band.
Sprint, along with T-Mobile, which recently closed its deal to acquire MetroPCS, have been leading the charge for inter-operability in the lower 700. arguing that AT&T and Verizon are indirectly foreclosing opportunities for smaller carriers to build out networks in the lower 700 MHz band because they are cost prohibited from obtaining hand devices demanded by consumers that can also operate in that band.
In short, even if Sprint’s spectrum fortunes get better post a merger with Dish (assuming Sprint’s board decides to say sayonara to SoftBank), don’t expect Sprint to abandon smaller carriers.