DISH Network Isn’t Done Buying Spectrum Just Yet

DISH Network’s spectrum holdings is worth over $20 billion and the newest wireless carrier shows no signs of slowing down as they continue building out the first standalone 5G network.

DISH Network has been hoarding over $20 billion worth of parts of the spectrum in hopes of building out a standalone 5G network, and with the closing of the T-Mobile and Sprint merger, they’re finally going to put it to use. Charlie Ergen, the co-founder, and chairman of DISH Network has been working in the background for years to build out a 5G network, and all of his hard work has paid off. The mass amount of spectrum that DISH Network owns will position them favorably as they continue to build out the DISH 5G network. 

DISH’s goal is to be a more efficient network with a sophisticated and cost-effective 5G network over its competitors like T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon. Currently, DISH Network owns about the same amount of low-band and mid-band spectrum as Verizon. Some industry experts expect that DISH will focus on the 600MHz low-band and 2.5GHz mid-band spectrum, a similar strategy to T-Mobile. 

DISH is Now Officially a Wireless Carrier

DISH became an official carrier on July 1st when DISH purchased the nation’s second-largest MVNO, Boost Mobile, and gained 9 million customers from T-Mobile for the price tag of $1.4 billion. DISH’s 5G network isn’t ready for customer use just yet, so DISH will manage Boost Mobile customers on T-Mobile’s network until its 5G network is live. 

With over $20B in spectrum assets, Ergen is not done amassing more spectrum just yet. There’s another major transaction set to go through in 2023 that’s worth about $3.6 billion and is tied to the divestiture of Sprint’s prepaid business. DISH will face a $72 million penalty if the transaction does not close and Ergen could back out anytime before 2023. As part of the agreement, T-Mobile can lease back a portion of the purchased spectrum as needed until 2025 following the closing of this deal. 

DISH’s acquisition of the 13.5MHz of 800MHz spectrum is a result of the initial agreement between T-Mobile and the Department of Justice when DISH Network agreed to become the fourth wireless carrier. The licenses DISH will receive from T-Mobile are Sprint’s nationwide low-band. This part of the spectrum is great for covering mass areas, but the low-band isn’t as efficient for transmitting huge amounts of data. DISH’s initial rollout of its 5G network is expected to cover large areas including unserved rural communities where 4G coverage can sometimes be sparse.

DISH Continuing to Invest in 5G

Ergen is seriously investing in its future in the wireless industry, spending over $216 million in the three most recent FCC auctions for millimeter-wave spectrum. DISH is one of 250 entities that have been approved to bid in the FCC’s upcoming CBRS auction for the 3.5GHz spectrum. It’s unknown whether DISH will add 3.7-4.2GHz C-band spectrum to its portfolio, but the December C-band spectrum auction is expected to be dominated by Verizon. 

Sources: Phone Arena & Light Reading