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DISH mobile video plans source of speculation

Broadcasters concerned with bringing mobile DTV to market may wish they had a Magic 8 Ball to tell them what satellite TV provider DISH Network means to do with the 700MHz spectrum it paid $712 million for two years back from the FCC. So far, this spectrum is a pricy asset, sitting idle on DISH’s plate.

DISH's 165 E block licenses give it a national footprint. DISH’s recent active presence on the ATSC leads broadcasters to think the satellite TV provider plans to use the mobile DTV standard to offer a national service of paid-programming channels complementing local TV services. DISH already offers a TV Everywhere service that lets subscribers record and watch DISH content on mobile devices via a Web browser, so a mobile TV service is a next logical step.

DISH is closed-mouth about it, but the satellite TV company’s moves in the last year seem to point to a mobile TV offering:

• Two months ago, DISH teamed up with Nagravision to add conditional access to the mobile DTV standard, a must for pay TV.

• DISH just finished migrating subscribers to the newest generation of Nagravision's pay TV system. Last month, DISH and Nagravision signed a 10-year continued partnership.

• In the middle of last year, DISH got in on an initiative to extend the basic ATSC standard to allow a whole DTV channel to be dedicated to mobile DTV service, instead of having to reserve a part for conventional broadcasting.

• DISH was part of the OMVC’s mobile DTV demo at January’s CES in Las Vegas, where Harris used DISH's Las Vegas Channel 56 to air eight channels of local and national channels of mobile TV during the show.