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U.S. regulators approve Dish request and spectrum sale

The sign in the lobby of the corporate headquarters of Dish Network is seen in the Denver suburb of Englewood, Colorado April 6, 2011. REUTE
The sign in the lobby of the corporate headquarters of Dish Network is seen in the Denver suburb of Englewood, Colorado April 6, 2011. REUTE

By Diane Bartz

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Federal regulators on Tuesday gave satellite TV provider Dish Network Corp the go-ahead to use wireless spectrum and also approved a framework for a spectrum auction next year.

The Federal Communications Commission voted to allow Dish to convert satellite spectrum for wireless use but would impose restrictions that the company opposes. Dish is the No. 2 satellite U.S. television provider after DirecTV.

Analysts have said that Dish could either sell the spectrum or partner with another wireless company such as Sprint Nextel if it plans to provide high-speed wireless services.

DISH said on Tuesday that it will "consider its strategic options and the optimal approach to put this spectrum to use for the benefit of consumers."

The five-member FCC commission also voted to approve a framework for auctioning a different chunk of spectrum -- known as the H block -- in 2013.

Sprint Nextel is known to be interested in the H block, which is near the spectrum owned by Dish.

The two companies have been in a battle over the power levels Dish should be allowed to use in a wireless network using the spectrum since excessive power levels used in one spectrum band can bleed into nearby spectrum and cause interference.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is expected to testify on Capitol Hill on Wednesday to discuss both of the items approved on Tuesday as well as FCC plans for an auction of spectrum now owned by broadcasters in 2014.

The chairman and other four commissioners appearing before the House of Representatives subcommittee on communications and technology are also expected to be asked about a proposal to ease rules on media ownership to allow the same company to own a television station and newspaper in the same market.

(Reporting By Diane Bartz; Editing by M.D. Golan)

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