Days after outlining how it plans to get out of nowhere as a major wireless provider in the US and launch the 5G service by the end of next year, Dish today reported revenue in the second quarter – and they are another reminder about exactly why the satellite TV provider is being transformed into a mobile operator.
Dish lost 79,000 satellite subscribers in the quarter. The company's streaming TV service, Sling TV, added 48,000 customers, but still left Dish with a net loss of 31,000 customers and continues the story that pay-TV is on its way down. Satellite is sagging, but Sling TV is a bright spot; It grows and stands out from competitors as the most affordable of the major Internet TV services. Still, competitors like YouTube TV and Hulu are catching on quickly after Sling's lead. So after many years of talking about it, Dish is branching out to mobile, and it got assistance from the US Department of Justice to get there.
If the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint overcomes a challenge from several US states, Dish will get away with all of Sprint's prepaid businesses including Boost Mobile (9 million customers in total), the carrier's 800 MHz spectrum licenses and unrestricted access to the combined carrier's network for 7 years. But reinventing themselves can come at a cost: Dish pays a total of $ 5 billion for all that, and Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen, who played a direct role in the negotiations between T-Mobile, Sprint, Dish and the Justice Department, has said the second phase of Dish's mobile development will require at least another $ 1
"I am definitely willing to put more money into this company if that's what it takes," Ergen said during the company's earnings interview Monday afternoon. Keep in mind that Verizons and AT & Ts in the world have been pouring money into their networks for decades at this time. Starting from scratch is a daunting proposition – even if you have the spectrum to do so.
And yet, Ergen wants Dish to quickly become a mobile carrier , and tells The Wall Street Journal "We'll get somewhere in three years that will take the other guys 10 years" and floating ideas like on-demand computer plans that will cost less money during off-peak hours. At least while Dish is working to build 5G infrastructure, it could fall back on T-Mobile's network – something it wouldn't necessarily have had if it had tried to use its existing spectrum holdings to become a mobile operator earlier.  "It didn't make sense to build a 4G network and tear it all up next year," Ergen said, responding to criticism that Dish had been a do-anything spectrum shooter.
Now, Ergen is confident that these divestitures pushed by the Department of Justice will put his company in an advantageous location so that it can finally use all the spectrum it has acquired over the years to build a standalone 5G network. "We had no spectrum," he told Axio last week. "We gathered enough spectrum to compete against the industry giants." He also told the Journal that he once aimed to get Sprint, but was outbid by SoftBank, the company that actually pays out with the $ 26 billion merger.
But even the merger and $ 10 billion will not be enough to top Verizon, AT&T or New T-Mobile, so it will be interesting to see what Dish does next. Dishwasher can pursue more capital – the company is confident it will have an easier time now that it has an actual, clear plan – but it is also allowed to partner with other companies like Google or Amazon on their mobile effort. However, it is barred from selling ownership of the assets they receive from T-Mobile and Sprint over the next few years.
The relatively small size of the dishwasher may be the reason why the 5G network becomes a city-by-city process; In the meantime, the company will focus on Boost Mobile and expand it from the prepaid offer it is today to a brand that also includes postpaid service. Like other carriers, you can rely on Dish to combine video and mobile products. A Sling TV and satellite mobile package are anything but guaranteed.
Of course, all of this rests on T-Mobile and Sprint coming across the last major obstacle to their merger faces. Ergen, a former professional poker player, said "I'm not a gambler" during today's conversation and assured investors that the odds are very, very good for everything going through as described last week.