DISH Network Chairman Charlie Ergen has left his position as CEO to devote more attention to the company’s wireless business. The company promoted Erik Carlson to president and CEO from president and chief operating officer. Carlson will continue to report to Ergen.
To say that DISH’s wireless operations need some supervision or maybe leadership would be an understatement. DISH is known in the wireless industry mostly for owning a lot of spectrum and for not doing much with it, as well as for failed wireless mergers.
In 2013, it got into bidding wars for both Sprint and Clearwire and lost both. The same year, DISH tested a rural fixed-wireless system with nTelos in Virginia using 2.5 GHz TD-LTE, which was reportedly abandoned two years later.
What DISH has done successfully is amass spectrum. Its cornucopia of frequency licenses includes AWS-4 downlink (2000-2020 MHz), and unpaired AWS-3 uplink (1695-1710 MHz). It spent more than $6B on 600 MHz spectrum in the incentive auction. In 2014, Dish Network bought $1.56B worth of H-block auction in the upper 1.9 GHz band. Dish bought 168 licenses in the 700 MHz E Block spectrum auction for $712 million in 2008.
In 2016, DISH averaged almost 80 MHz of spectrum nationwide, covering more than 23 billion MHz-POPs. That number does not include the 600 MHz frequencies. And the satellite-TV provider faces numerous FCC-imposed deadlines to build out coverage on the spectrum it has purchased.
So, now would be a good time for DISH to move on its spectrum position. Which way it goes is still anyone’s best guess.