Although it surprised the wireless industry a bit, it does make sense that Sprint saw a declining value in the H block spectrum. Acquiring that spectrum would have allowed Sprint to expand their primary LTE Channel from a 5x5 channel to a 10x10 channel. In terms of Mbps, from 37 Mbps per sector to 73 Mbps per sector. If this could be added to the network today, it would bring Sprint to about par with the other 3 national carriers. The problem is timing. It will be mid-2014 before the spectrum will be awarded to the auction winner, but prior to receiving the spectrum, the high bidder could start the 18-24 month process to get the LTE band classifications changed. Sprint would either have expanded the frequencies for their band 25 or requested a new band classification that would include all of the old PCS block, the PCS G block, and the PCS H block. With the standards body work, including carrier aggregation, it would likely by early 2016 before network upgrades would begin. This coincides with their forecasted completion of Project Spark. If Sprint completes this project on-time, they will have 38,000 sites that will be enabled with 40MHz of 2.5GHz spectrum, which could be a game changer. This does seem to signal that Sprint doesn't think their PCS G LTE is particularly strategic.
The FCC released their rulemakings today for the PCS H Auction and the Small Cell 3.5GHz spectrum. In keeping with with my company's mission statement "Explaining the Wireless Industry from a Carrier Mindset", I will be evaluating and commenting on both of those FCC documents by the end of the week.
On the surface, a deal to host Dish's spectrum on Sprint's Network Vision platform would make alot of sense. The chart below highlights that part of Dish's (DI) spectrum is adjacent to the AWS-2 spectrum that recently has been referred to as the PCS H spectrum. Sprint is interested in acquiring this spectrum to increase their LTE channel size from 5x5 FDD-LTE to 10x10 FDD-LTE. Unfortunately, the Dish spectrum is configured where the uplink (from the handset to the cell site) would be adjacent to Sprint's LTE downlink (cell site to handset). This will be problematic for Dish. Cell sites transmit at much higher power than handset signals are received. Expensive filters on the separate Dish antennas may not be enough to allow the Dish antennas to be installed in the same plane (level) as the Sprint antennas.
You can look at this as being similar to the Lightsquared deal, except Lightsquared was planned into the deployment through the zoning and permitting process. With the standards body processes that are in front of Dish, it would still be years before equipment is installed and a network operating on Sprint's towers. A Dish MVNO to operate on Sprint's 3G Voice and LTE network would allow Dish to get a wireless product to market quickly.