Dish's spectrum portfolio remains severely undervalued but that's likely to change in the near future given the advent of 5G, financial services firm Cowen Group reported earlier this week. The company estimates the real worth of Dish's spectrum holdings presently amounts to approximately $30.2 billion, with such vast assets making the satellite service provider a likely "supermarket of spectrum" for wireless carriers looking to beef up their portfolios in preparation for the deployment of the fifth generation of mobile networks.
Dish has recently been pursuing NarrowBand Internet of Things plans in an increasingly aggressive manner, with some analysts believing its spectrum portfolio is already enough to support a national NB-IoT network, yet Cowen is referring to those ambitions as just an interim measure meant to keep the firm within the requirements of spectrum buildout rules of the Federal Communications Commission. All spectrum holders in the United States must adhere to certain rules intended to ensure they're not endlessly sitting on their portfolios. Cowen believes that's exactly what Dish's NB-IoT plan is meant to do, predicting that the company will be looking to offer it to mobile service providers interested in boosting their 5G prospects going forward. Under the current ruleset, Dish must begin using its holdings by 2020 or it will lose the ownership of the spectrum in question.
While the firm doesn't have vast amounts of millimeter-wave spectrum that's expected to be the backbone of 5G networks, its low-band and mid-band holdings are still likely to be attractive to most network operators in the country as 4G LTE offerings should continue being the dominant wireless technology in the U.S. over the next half a decade, as per previous estimates. 5G itself is the future but won't make an "iota of difference" in the near term, T-Mobile Chief Technology Officer Neville Ray recently said. U.S. carriers are expected to start large-scale 5G buildouts early next year and have already vowed to offer national coverage by 2020.