Dish Network has spent the majority of 2012 waiting for a decision from the Federal Communications Commission on whether or not it can use some spectrum that it owns to build out a wireless network. Today Dish finally got its answer, as the FCC's five-person commission has voted to approve the company's plans to use its satellite spectrum for a 4G LTE wireless network here on earth. The approval did come with a couple of conditions, though, as Dish must set aside parts of its spectrum to avoid interfering with nearby bands. The FCC has also said that Dish must build out 70 percent of its network within six years.
As for what Dish plans to do now that it's gotten approval, the company isn't ready to dish details (ba-dum psh!) quite yet. Dish SVP Jeff Blum said that his company "will consider its strategic options and the optimal approach to put this spectrum to use for the benefit of consumers" after it gets a more thorough look at the FCC's order. It's been rumored that Google and Dish have held talks about teaming up for a service, and a separate report claimed that Sprint has floated the idea of forming network partnership with Dish. For now, I'm sure that Dish is just pleased that it's finally gotten approval for its plans and can begin looking forward to putting them into action.
In addition to approving Dish's plans, the FCC's commission has approved the groundwork for a plan to auction off a chunk of H-block spectrum near Dish's own spectrum. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has said that he expects the first auctions to take place in 2013. Sprint has shown some interest in this spectrum, which an FCC spokesperson has said said could be worth billions. The FCC said in a statement that the proceeds from this auction will be used to help fund a Public Safety Network for first responders.