Dish Could Spend $10 Million To Build Its 5G Network, Which Includes Building 50,000 Towers

In short: Dish's CEO and co-founder, Charlie Ergen, told an investor conference today that the company could spend up to $10 million to build 50,000 towers for its 5G network. Deutsche Bank Research noted after the conference that Ergen sounded bullish on the "paradigm shift" that 5G is presenting. Ergen also outlined the plan for 5G, with 100MHz of the spectrum that it already owns. However, 50,000 towers is a pretty big deal for Dish Network, seeing as Sprint doesn't even have 50,000 towers, but Verizon and T-Mobile do have around 60,000 and AT&T has around 70,000. So that would put Dish Network right in line with competing with the likes of Sprint, AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon, when it comes to 5G.

Background: For the past decade or so, Dish has been picking up spectrum at all of the spectrum auctions that the FCC has been holding. Now, Dish is coming up on an important deadline, where it needs to actually start deploying that spectrum, or it could be faced with some heavy fines from the FCC - and ultimately having that spectrum taken out of its hands. Ergen has expressed many times that he wants Dish to get into the wireless game. Dish has attempted to buy both T-Mobile and Sprint in the past, but weren't able to get the deal done. They were close to purchasing Sprint, but SoftBank came in and beat them to finishing the deal a few years ago.

Impact: Building 50,000 towers is going to take some time to get up and running, so Dish could still end up paying some fines to the FCC. But it's also a pretty big undertaking. And with 5G right around the corner, Dish is looking to capitalize on it, and be able to compete with AT&T, Verizon and the new T-Mobile (after the Sprint merger is completed). Which would actually make the FCC happy, as it doesn't want to lose a fourth carrier, but losing one and then adding Dish would make things a bit better all around.

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