Summary:

Though it’s sitting on its own trove of mobile broadband spectrum, Dish is looking for partners to provide fixed wireless LTE access to its customers homes. Sprint and nTelos are both working with Dish in trials.

After spending years acquiring 2 GHz spectrum and getting regulatory approval to use it for mobile broadband, Dish Network has started to test an LTE service. But it’s not using it’s own airwaves. It’s using Sprint’s.

On Tuesday, Dish and Sprint said they are jointly developing a fixed-wireless residential broadband service, using Sprint’s LTE network to connect homes to the internet. The two will start trials in Corpus Christi, Texas, in the middle of 2014, with plans to expand to other cities in the future.

In the announcement, Dish said its technicians would be able to handle the installation of the outdoor and indoor antennas necessary to tap the network, a simple task if they’re already at a customer’s home installing a satellite dish. Dish is looking to bundle the service with its core satellite TV offering, giving it a broadband component. With both the cable operators and the phone companies offering triple play services, it’s getting harder for satellite TV providers to compete with their lone video service. Corpus Christi just happens to be an AT&T U-Verse market.

Dish is also working with nTelos in Virginia using the same 2.5 GHz spectrum to offer DSL-like service in four cities next year. Both trials are using time-division-LTE networks, which is the same technology powering Sprint’s new Spark network.

We’re still waiting for Dish to do something with its own LTE spectrum. Dish could use the airwaves to build a fixed wireless network of its own, providing residential broadband and backhaul services to other carriers. The company, however, has maintained it plans to launch an LTE network of its own, though its made the ridiculous claim it can’t do so until 2016. Dish is buying time while it figures out what to do with its new highly valuable airwaves.

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