Dish Network Chairman Charlie Ergen and a number of the satellite service provider's top executives met with the United States Federal Communications Commission last Tuesday to outline the company's wireless vision, as revealed by an ex parte filing published by the regulator two days later. Dish reiterated its commitment to deploy a Narrowband IoT service and move into 5G in the near future, having said investing in 4G LTE offerings doesn't make business sense and doesn't adequately address public interest due to the abundance of competing solutions on the market, with the implication being that Dish will embrace 5G only as a standalone specification and hence won't be among the first players in the country to offer next-generation wireless services.
If Dish was to deploy a 4G LTE network, it would be required to update it to a non-standalone 5G standard almost immediately, hence lowering its chances of generating a return on its investment by a significant margin, the company argued. Instead of committing massive resources to a mobile service standard that will soon be considered obsolete in terms of technological capabilities, Dish wants to prioritize an NB-IoT network using its existing spectrum holdings. The company is still relatively vague about its 5G plans but has confirmed that the 600MHz part of its portfolio is meant to at least partially support the future network. T-Mobile previously also touted the low-band spectrum as an important part of its 5G equation and hasn't changed its stance on the matter following the announcement of an attempted merger with Sprint, though it's now planning to combine the smaller carrier's 2.5GHz holdings with its own bands.
Dish's approach to 5G buildouts is unique due to its insistence to avoid non-standalone 5G but also expected given how it's one of the few upcoming players without a 4G LTE network. The non-standalone specification has been approved by the 3GPP late last year in Lisbon, being the first implementable 5G standard in the history of the industry. Its standalone counterpart has been discussed at a Samsung-hosted summit in Busan, South Korea, last week, and is expected to be officially approved next month.