DISH Network’s ambitions for a 5G wireless network are the same as the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC), according to new comments that have been attributed to DISH’s Chairman, Charlie Ergen during the company’s quarterly earnings call. As a result, Ergen argued the FCC should completely support DISH’s 5G plans and ambitions. These comments were largely made in response to questions aimed at DISH following the news the FCC was now questioning DISH over its use -- or in this case, lack of use -- of the spectrum it holds. Use of such spectrum is normally a condition of owning the spectrum (at last after a given time-frame) and in spite of previous suggestions DISH was going to use it, it still hasn't. As part of these most recent comments, Ergen stated it is holding out -- and likely will for some time still -- for good reason. The US needs DISH to.
Ergen argues that DISH’s 5G goal is to help the US become “the No. 1 in 5G” which is the same ambition the FCC has, again according to Ergen. However, to compete on the global stage, Ergen states the US needs to start being more concerned with standalone 5G and not the ‘hybrid’ version that also caters to 4G connections. Ergen states this is exactly what a number of the US competitors are doing, and also what the US needs to be doing. While further expanding on this point by highlighting how AT&T and Verizon’s current 5G plans do not satisfy that mandate - as they are both hybrid-based 5G solutions. Therefore, according to Ergen, DISH is “best positioned” to help the FCC, and the US, to achieve its goal in being a 5G leader.
Going forward, Ergen says DISH plans to start building outs its standalone 5G solution from 2020. A date which is specifically set due to various hurdles DISH (and the industry in general) needs to overcome beforehand - such as the readiness of Release 16: the 3GPP’s 5G specification. In the meantime however, DISH plans to continue with its grander preparations by focusing on its current plans to create a NB-IoT network. Something Ergen has previously discussed in detail, while at the same time once again highlighting DISH’s lack of interest in a 5G network that also supports 4G.