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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