Dish missing out on mobile deals while waiting for rulings, Ergen says

The satellite TV company wants a partner and needs more spectrum to succeed in mobile, Chairman Charlie Ergen said

While T-Mobile USA announced a deal to merge with MetroPCS Wireless on Wednesday, Dish Network Chairman Charlie Ergen said regulatory delays have prevented his company from securing partners and spectrum it will need to build a viable mobile broadband business.

Dish is seeking approval from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to use a spectrum band that has been dedicated to satellites, called AWS-4, for a land-based LTE network. That network would offer high-speed services, increasing competition in the U.S. mobile market, according to Dish.

In a keynote address at the PCIA Wireless Infrastructure Show in Orlando on Wednesday, Ergen praised the FCC's hard work on the issue but said waiting for answers has cost Dish the chance to make important deals. The T-Mobile deal is just the latest consolidation move in the industry, he said, citing Verizon's recent purchase of a large amount of spectrum from cable operators, Ergen said.

"We had hoped that we'd have our license before the consolidation started to happen, because that allows us to participate in that," Ergen said. "You certainly have more options when there's a lot more people on the table that you could potentially partner with, so that is disappointing that we haven't been in the game yet."

Dish's entire mobile strategy may hinge on finding a partner, according to Ergen. He declined to say when he thought the venture would bring a return on the company's investment, which has totaled US$4 billion so far, though he said Dish plans five years ahead.

"If you partner with somebody, that return can be faster, as long as they have a profitable business," Ergen said. "If you build it from scratch, that would take much longer. It might be impossible."

Asked what he thought about speculation that a Republican administration might allow Dish to drop its competitive plans and sell its spectrum to a major carrier, Ergen said the company would prefer to get into the mobile business but has a responsibility to its shareholders.

"We may end up having to sell the spectrum ... we're not suicidal," Ergen said.

Ergen also said he hopes the FCC won't shift Dish's band by 5MHz to clear spectrum that might be auctioned to pay for a national public-safety network. That change would force Dish to get a new band certified for LTE by the 3GPP, which oversees that technology. That process could take an additional year or two, he said.

In any case, the 40MHz of spectrum that Dish would get in AWS-4, around 2GHz, would not be enough to build its business, Ergen said. Dish wants some lower frequencies with longer range, such as in the 700MHz band where AT&T and Verizon operate, to better serve rural areas. T-Mobile, MetroPCS, Sprint Nextel, Clearwire and other carriers also need more or different spectrum, he said. Meanwhile, AT&T and Verizon, everyone's biggest competitors, have 100MHz or more.

"There's only two guys that don't need more spectrum," Ergen said. "But they say they do, but they don't."

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Stephen Lawson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Bitdefender 2019

Taking cybersecurity to the highest level and order now for a special discount on the world’s most awarded and trusted cybersecurity. Be aware without a care!

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?