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Sirius XM accuses wireless companies of "warehousing" spectrum next door to satellite radio

Dempsey v. Firpo

source: wikimedia commons

The great accusation fest which is the struggle between Sirius XM (SIRI) satellite radio and a host of wireless companies went to its next round on Friday, with Sirius accusing the companies of “warehousing” their licenses nearby the service’s bandwidth:

“There can be little question that WCS [Wireless Communications Service] licensees have warehoused spectrum in hopes of receiving regulatory relief to allow them to deploy mobile broadband services – even though such services are precluded under the WCS technical rules the Commission adopted in 1997. The WCS licenses sold for only $13.6 million in the Commission’s 1997 spectrum auction, in large part because of the restrictions the Commission established to protect satellite radio and other adjacent radio services. WCS licensees that have ignored their obligations to build out their spectrum now stand to collect a windfall profit as the Commission considers rule changes to now allow mobile use of the spectrum at the expense of increased interference into the Satellite Radio service. That profit is magnified by the minimal investment in equipment testing and development that WCS licensees have made over the past 13 years.”

Warehousing in spectrum-talk means just sitting on your licenses until you can sell them at a profit or engage in some similarly unproductive activity.

To recap this story for the umpteenth time: the problem here is that licenses in the WCS band and Sirius XM’s SDARS band are scrunched pretty close together, and the FCC fears that SDARS terrestrial repeaters could cause interference to WCS operations. WCS represents Comcast (CMCSA), AT&T, NextWave (WAVE) and other companies that want to launch WiMAX mobile services in their portion of the 2.3 GHz zone.

I’ve tried to stay relatively neutral about this issue, but accusing these companies of warehousing seems a little unfair. The WCS Coalition, which represents them, has been trying for years to get new rules that would allow them to roll out WiMAX on that 20 MHz of band. It certainly seems like that would be the best use for those licenses. So it’s still up to the FCC to get both parties to agree to sensible non-interference rules, and meanwhile try to duck while the accusations fly.

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3 Responses to Sirius XM accuses wireless companies of "warehousing" spectrum next door to satellite radio

  1. Airmaxed April 26, 2010 at 8:49 am #

    I wrote a blog about two years ago, about the disruption of 4G technology, and how it will ultemately change the way we play.

    To sum it up. With 4G’s ability to handoff, roam in a service area, we will be able to listen to radio, TV, and anything else available on the Internnet. That blog was targeted at Sirius, where I was warning them about the danger of not changing with the times.

    You see, consumers will start purchasing wireless , or mobile Internet, and wont need satellite radio. We will be able to listen to what ever content we wish, and there is lots of it. that includes radio from around the world, as well as TV.

    Sirius im not trying to knock your awesome service, but the future is mobile Internet, and about the time car makers start offering up options like in dash media players, is when it’s time to start worring.

  2. tom April 27, 2010 at 2:33 pm #

    You are wrong Airmaxed, What Sirius has no one else has which is great content, such as artists, including Howard Stern, Martha Stewart, Oprah Winfrey, Rosie O’Donnell, Jamie Foxx, Barbara Walters, Also Sirius XM Radio is the leader in sports programming as the Official Satellite Radio Partner of the NFL, Major League Baseball, NASCAR, NBA, NHL and PGA TOUR and major college sports.

    Thats what people pay for not only Music 🙂

  3. FreeRadioIsAMyth May 18, 2010 at 7:57 am #

    What does 4G roll out have to do with the viability of Sirius XM (other than they are trying to strong-arm their way into a frequency spectrum that interferes with the currently licensed SDARs range)? Want 4G ? Knock yourselves out. I’m all for it, bring it on! Sirius XM can provide their service just fine over WiFi/internet as well as satellite (with much lower CapEx to boot!). The issue is that Sirius XM currently OWNS the rights to their spectrum with the stipulations in place to protect the use of that spectrum. What’s so hard to understand about this?!

    As far as providing mobile internet in dash . . . forget it, people have enough trouble keeping out of their own way on the roads. They don’t need other distractions to cause trouble.

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