Dish Wireless commenced a trial of low-band 800MHz spectrum after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted permission for testing, potentially advancing a purchase of relevant licences from T-Mobile US for $3.6 billion.

The operator began a six-month trial of spectrum in the 817MHz to 824MHz and 862MHz to 869MHz ranges on 6 March after the FCC cleared the move late last week.

Media speculation in 2022 suggested Dish Wireless’ interest in the spectrum was waning.

On its Q4 earnings call last month chairman Charlie Ergen cited “positive developments” around the frequencies, but added the company is “not suicidal” in terms of sacrificing “the balance sheet for some short-term gains”.

CFO Paul Orban stated there was an increased probability the company would exercise the purchase option with T-Mobile.

Terms of the agreement mean Dish Wireless would be liable for a $72 million fee for walking away.

Analysts have speculated Dish Wireless faces an uphill climb for building a sustainable mobile business due, in part to the cost.

It conducted a $500 million debt offering in January and a $2 billion funding round in November 2022, both of which are being used to contstruct a 5G network.

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