AT&T, T-Mobile fire back at Dish-led effort to change MVDDS rules

No one is more interested in seeing additional 5G spectrum made available than AT&T (NYSE: T), but it isn't buying a Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH)-led proposal to change the rules for Multichannel Video Data and Distribution (MVDDS) spectrum.

That's the gist of a statement of opposition that AT&T filed with the FCC after the MVDDS 5G Coalition, of which Dish is a member, petitioned the FCC to initiate a rulemaking proceeding designed to permit MVDDS licensees to use their 12.2-12.7 GHz spectrum to provide 2-way mobile broadband services. AT&T says the petitioners have not presented any technical justification for revisiting the rules or provided an explanation of how direct broadcast satellite (DBS) services might be protected from interference if MVDDS service were mobile and 2-way.

T-Mobile US isn't buying it, either. While it supports a re-evaluation of whether the 12 GHz band can be used for mobile broadband services, additional rights should not automatically be extended to current MVDDS licensees because incumbents have failed to make use of their authorized spectrum, the operator told the commission.

When MVDDS was initially authorized, the commission provided licensees with flexibility regarding the types of services that could be offered but denied all applications for 2-way terrestrial use and corresponding waiver requests. The commission said permitting 2-way operations in the 12 GHz band would "significantly raise the potential for instances of interference among the operations," T-Mobile wrote.

The carrier argues that if interference challenges can be overcome, the commission must auction any terrestrial rights to operate in the 12 GHz band instead of awarding those rights to MVDDS licenses that have not, to date, "done anything with the spectrum despite the flexibility the commission has provided."

AT&T said the commission determined in 2002 that permissible uses of MVDDS spectrum included any digital non-broadcast service, including fixed one-way service direct-to-home/business video and data services that complied with the technical standards and interference protection criteria it issued.

AT&T, which acquired DirecTV last year, said the commission specifically agreed with DirecTV that 2-way service in the 12 GHz band should not be permitted because adding a return link in addition to the existing non-geostationary satellite orbit (NGSO) fixed satellite service (FSS) allocation and the proposed MVDDS allocation would unnecessarily complicate an already challenging sharing scenario. The operator added that sufficient flexibility for 2-way service was afforded to MVDDS licensees whereby the 12 GHz band could be used for a "downstream" path and the "upstream" path could be located outside of the 12 GHz band in other available spectrum or over a wireline return path.

AT&T concluded that it favors finding additional spectrum for 5G mobile use, but without additional technical analysis or a specific detailed proposal, the commission should not start a rulemaking to expand MVDDS operational parameters at this time.

The MVDDS coalition petition states that the 12.2-12.7 GHz band is ideally suited to be made available for increased sharing with existing DBS to allow use for new 5G services.  

For more:
- see this AT&T filing
- see this T-Mobile filing

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