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EchoStar, DirecTV Need AWS?

The upcoming AWS spectrum auction could be a desperate attempt for survival by EchoStar and DirecTV says the Denver Post. The companies are part of a consortium, with Rupert Murdoch and others, that was recently approved to bid for spectrum.

Proving the importance of the move, the group has put down an upfront payment of almost a billion dollars — the largest in the auction! The article says that buying access to wireless networks that can deliver voice, video and high-speed Internet access is crucial for the satellite companies, and could signal an upcoming merger between the two.

While Echostar, DirecTV and Rupert Murdoch have been reported to be interested in wireless through a partnership with McCaw’s Clearwire or via the auction, some say that the spectrum being offered in the upcoming auction might be incompatible with mobile WiMAX technology.

It is still not clear how the satellite operators plan to use the spectrum. We have contacted both companies and are waiting to here more about their spectrum plans, while spokespersons from DirecTV said that FCC rules prohibit them from commenting.

Whatever wireless plans Murdoch et al have, a strategy to to own both content and distribution could be part of Murdoch’s transformation of his media conglomerate in the two-way interactive world of the Internet. Wireless broadband could offer a crucial way for the company to reach consumers willing to participate in this “two-way web” and open up a new source of advertising revenues.

6 Responses to “EchoStar, DirecTV Need AWS?”

  1. Om, as Victor pointed out, the forum just needs to approve a particular profile based on the frequency and it’d be wimax. There are two things at work here: 1) the antenna and the RF dependent parts and 2) the electronics, decoders, encoders etc. You can use most of the same electronics and logic for #2. This is similar to quad band GSM phones. The radio specific antenna tunings are the only things that change (leaving aside things like power limits for various bands), the back end software and logic is common.

  2. Victor Blake

    It can be compatible if a new profile were approved by the WiMax forum. It’s even likely given that many of the radios being built are soft radios — and therefore only new antennas would be required. Beyond the need in the US it is my understand (as heard from other folks who know more than me) that some of this same spectrum is being eyed for use in Canada and in India. If so in the US as well — that may well be enough to bring forth a profile in the forum.

  3. so this would need different type of gear than what other companies are trying to use, or will this can use the same gear. that is the other issue many people are talking about. any clarifications would be more than welcome.

  4. Spectrum is hardly incompatible with mobile wimax. The frequency bands don’t care what modulation/air interface is being used. Given enough money, there will be plenty of people who will bring up mobile wimax on whatever spectrum you want them to build radios for.

    It might not be interoperable with the other wimax networks, eg, roaming might be tough till multiband wimax radios come on out, but thats it.