Charlie Ergen has been working on shifting from TV to mobile tycoon for many years.
The billionaire media executive and former professional poker player spent $25 billion in mobile spectrum purchases over the past fifteen years to transform his satellite pay-TV business, Dish Network, into a telephone company that can compete with the AT&T industry giants. Verizon and T-Mobile. Eight years ago, he even bought Sprint for nearly $25 billion, which was the third largest network at the time.
Earlier this year, Dish announced its intention to become the first telecommunications company in the world to choose to run its services from the public cloud. Reach an agreement with Amazon Use its servers to control the new 5G network.
If it works, it can prove completely different types of telecommunications architectures.
According to Ergen, Dish’s transition to a telecommunications company was driven by a “technological paradigm shift,” and cloud providers can now host all the servers and software functions needed to run the network.
“This technology is crucial. If you come too early, you are a road killer, but if you come too late, you will miss this window,” he said in an interview with the Financial Times.
At the same time, after China’s Huawei was banned from launching new 5G networks for security reasons, the government put pressure on telecommunications companies in the United States and the United Kingdom to use smaller equipment suppliers.
Dish not only cooperates with Nokia, but also with a long list of American software companies, including Mavenir, Altiostar, Matrixx, Ciena, and Palo Alto Networks, to provide networks considered as potential pioneers ‘Open RAN’ Network around the world.
“Open RAN” represents a shift that enables telecommunications hardware and software from different vendors to work together, instead of relying on large vendors like Huawei or Ericsson. This allows smaller and potentially innovative suppliers to enter the 5G market. After the Huawei ban, it has been supported by the US and UK governments as a way to increase competition.
If Dish proves that it can quickly deploy a new 5G network at a much lower cost – because it doesn’t have to build and operate its own data center – then its release may be a landmark event. “As long as we succeed, others will follow suit,” Ergen said.
Dish’s 5G network will be launched in Las Vegas in the third quarter and will begin accepting customer registration requests through a website called Project Gene5is this month, But many people in the industry still doubt how much this will have on the US telecom market dominated by the three major groups.
The budget of US$8 billion to US$10 billion for building new wireless networks may seem trivial to some people. An executive of a competitor telecommunications company said: “You may get good coverage in half of New Jersey for $10 billion,” he said. The new 5G network is unlikely to provide urban areas in a few years. Extensive coverage outside. This will reduce its appeal to consumers and business customers who need to travel.
Others pointed out that only a few months after AT&T reversed its entry into new markets, Dish began to enter the telecommunications field, including: spin off Satellite company’s closest competitor, DirecTV.
For some people, wireless push is the foundation of Dish’s survival. Research team MoffettNathanson believes that Dish’s core satellite TV business may report the “minimum level” of new customers in the future.
Although it has just started, “it can now be said that Dish’s core business is wireless rather than satellite TV,” the analyst said.
Ergen argued that he had met doubters in the past.Known as the most hated person in Hollywood because he High-stakes battle In content companies, his reputation is terrible. He defeated Rupert Murdoch strategically in 2001 and thwarted his initial attempt to buy DirecTV. Ergen has also been active in the UK, where he circled the satellite competitor Inmarsat but Withdraw from bidding In the 11th hour of 2018.
In the past, he must have gotten rid of doubters. His $60,000 satellite TV startup EchoStar was founded in 1980 by installing “large old-fashioned antennas” in rural American areas where there is no reception, which got him started.
The consumer digital radio service launched in 1996 under the Dish (Digital Information Superhighway) brand made him a serious media player and put him ahead of cable companies in the pay-TV market. Dish is now separated from EchoStar, has more than 11 million customers, and created $15.5 billion in revenue and $1.8 billion in net profit in 2020.
Ergen also pointed out to those who are skeptical of his plan that if the U.S. telecommunications regulator does not establish its mobile network to cover 40% of the U.S. population by June next year, the U.S. telecommunications regulator will impose huge amounts on it Fines-this is part of the conditions attached to their spectrum licenses. By 2023 and 70%. He had previously stated that missing these regulatory milestones would be a “financial suicide” for the company.
Dish already has a place in the mobile market, purchasing the Boost brand from T-Mobile in 2020. Boost’s 9 million customer base is less than one-tenth of its larger competitor’s, but Dish has accused T-Mobile of trying to “hinder” the old 3G network used by Boost after the big company shut down the old 3G network earlier than expected. competition”.
Even with the power of the Amazon behind him, Ergen would not be full of hope for the earth. “As the fourth player, we don’t believe we can conquer the world in the short term,” he said. He added that there are still great risks in launching a network structure that has not been tried before.
Nevertheless, he believes that his cloud-based network can reshape his business. “We are building Netflix in the Blockbuster world,” he said with his unique Tennessee drag. “This is not our first rodeo.”