Dish Network will start selling mobile phones from Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile in its Blockbuster video rental stores, according to a report from Bloomberg that cites people with “knowledge of the matter.”
The plan is an extension of Dish’s current mobile phone sales through Blockbuster’s website. The company will now move the business, under the name “Blockbuster Mobile” to its 850 retail locations.
The move could be a precursor to Dish Network launching its own wireless service on its AWS-4 spectrum. Dish has already received technical specifications for the spectrum from the 3GPP and is now waiting on approval of rules from the FCC that would allow it to set out a terrestrial LTE-Advanced deployment on the airwaves.
The road to its own wireless network has been an arduous one for Dish. The company has met resistance from Sprint Nextel, which is asking the FCC to put restrictions on Dish’s spectrum that would protect the H Block, a chunk of spectrum in which Sprint has expressed interest in purchasing. The FCC meanwhile is protecting the H Block to ensure it will generate the most revenue possible in a spectrum auction.
Dish this week relented, saying it was willing to accept a 5 MHz guard band on its AWS spectrum that would protect the H Block from interference.
In a filing with the FCC, Dish said it recognizes that the commission desires to retain flexibility in the future use of the H Block.
Specifically, Sprint has repeatedly petitioned the FCC to shift Dish Network’s AWS-4 band up 5 MHz from 2000-2020 MHz to 2005-2025 MHz so adjacent H block PCS spectrum can be used for LTE.
Sprint claims that if the FCC were to limit the H Block to only small cell use or air-to-ground communications it likely would not bid on that spectrum. In the past, Dish has argued that a “full power” H Block would cause at least 25 percent of its uplink to become unusable, a claim Sprint has said is erroneous.
Dish Network purchased Blockbuster for $320 million in April of 2011. At the time, the company announced it would keep 1,500 retail locations in operation, but that’s been more of an uphill climb than expected as consumers preference shifts to digital and streaming downloads from services like Amazon and iTunes.