Dish Network has been testing a TD-LTE network with Sprint and nTelos Wireless and may be making that network available to customers in the coming year. Dish recently had a conference call to announce their third-quarter earnings, and Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen said the company is “cautiously optimistic that that’s a real business.” They would be using the TD-LTE network to target underserved areas and customers that have really slow internet access, or may not have internet access at all. Thomas Cullen, the executive VP of corporate development at Dish, visited their customer that had been trailing the service in October. “They’re pleased with the service and the choice,” he said. “So the experience is good. We’re optimistic about the efforts, and we’re still learning.”
Dish and nTelos launched their TD-LTE trial back in July, running on 2.5GHz spectrum. They are offering trail services in central and western Virginia, specifically in Roanoke, Harrisonburg, Waynesboro, Staunton, and Charlottesville. The data service can to be bundled with a Dish TV satellite package and costs $30 per month. Customers are typically getting download speeds of around 15 Mbps with the package. Dish launched a similar trial with Sprint in Corpus Christi, Texas, in September. With the Sprint partnership, Dish is offering 10 Mbps download speeds for $30 with a bundled TV package, or as a stand-alone internet package for $40 per month.
Dish Network has purchased a bunch of spectrum in past FCC auctions, but we didn’t really know what they were going to do with it. Breaking into the wireless market is a difficult undertaking. Providing internet services over a satellite connection is shaky at best. This wireless solution using TD-LTE and partnering with wireless carriers makes sense for Dish. They think that they can build this out and provide a good, inexpensive internet option for their customers. 10-15 Mbps download speeds aren’t going to compete with faster services from Comcast or Verizon FiOS, but at half the cost it they could be able to offer some competition.