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Patience Pays Off for DISH

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Patience is a virtue. DISH Network (Nasdaq: DISH  ) is about to reap the rewards of at least pretending to stay calm while government agencies run through their agonizingly slow processes.

DISH has this game-changing ambition to launch a nationwide 4G LTE network, using satellite-radio licenses converted to a land-based tower grid. That would allow DISH to run a whole new business model that includes delivering video signals, voice-call services, and other interactive features over high-speed wireless connections. I like that idea so much that I've given DISH a thumbs-up CAPScall, staking some of my precious all-star status on DISH's success.

The company has asked the FCC for waivers to the current licensing rules to get the ball rolling, but the FCC hasn't budged. DISH still isn't getting a waiver, but the rules are about to change in the company's favor.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski wants to unlock a whole lot of 4G-ready radio spectrum for terrestrial networks by relaxing the rules on what technologies can use certain spectrum slices. "We have been working to address the spectrum crunch, and to enable the continued acceleration of the mobile revolution that is driving economic growth, investment, and valuable new services for consumers and businesses," Genachowski said. Nobody wants to be known as a roadblock to innovation, you know.

To that end, the FCC also wants to ensure that handset makers design their products to work with a wide variety of radio frequencies. That way, big boys AT&T (NYSE: T  ) and Verizon (NYSE: VZ  ) won't be able to muscle phone makers into creating gadgets that work only with their narrow slices of the broadband spectrum. Giving smaller networks such as T-Mobile USA and Leap Wireless (Nasdaq: LEAP  ) access to the same high-quality handsets as the industry giants would protect healthy competition in the open market.

Genachowski would prefer if the phone industry could simply agree to keep its technologies open, but he's willing to put his foot down if necessary.

With that formerly so distant 4G plan moving closer to reality, DISH is looking good. The company could use a unique service like that to set itself apart from satellite-based archrival DirecTV (Nasdaq: DTV  ) and all the cable operators. Add DISH to your Foolish watchlist to stay current on the 4G saga. The stock is off to a market-beating 16% return so far in 2012, and the broadband plan could light another fire under these shares. That's impressive, but Foolish analysts have found an even more promising stock for your portfolio. Learn all about The Motley Fool's Top Stock for 2012 in a special report -- free for a limited time.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund holds no position in any of the companies mentioned. We Fools don't all hold the same opinion, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. Check out Anders' holdings and bio, or follow him on Twitter and Google+. We have a disclosure policy.

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