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Dish continues to talk a good game while delivering little in terms of 5G progress

Dish continues to talk a good game while delivering little in terms of 5G progress
The US wireless industry will never be the same after the recent combination of the third and fourth-largest players, which almost instantly gave birth to a new number two mobile network operator

But while T-Mobile's seemingly unstoppable rise is unquestionably forcing Verizon and AT&T to (try to) do better in the 5G rollout field, one can still argue market competition has been adversely affected by Sprint's (slow) death.

Of course, there's a new Sprint in town, but even though Dish does technically have a few million wireless subscribers under its name already, said Boost Mobile customers are in reality connected to T-Mobile's network. That's because the satellite TV giant is still in the early stages of building its own cellular infrastructure, which will need to spread its wings fast to meet the 70 percent coverage goal imposed by the DOJ for 2023.

"We're just going to go do it"


If you've ever heard Dish Chairman and Co-Founder Charlie Ergen speak, his vaguely ambitious statement included in the above quotes is unlikely to catch you off guard. After all, this is the same guy who likened Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile to Blockbuster a few months ago after promising to replace Sprint in the wireless landscape "on day one" following the completion of the T-Mobile merger.


In fact, Ergen has a long history of overpromising and underdelivering both satellite TV and wireless technologies despite his company never having actually tackled the latter industry prior to the Boost Mobile acquisition. Instead, what Dish did was hoard massive amounts of cellular spectrum over the years with no apparent intention of using said radio waves to provide consumer services.

While all this spectrum will undoubtedly prove handy now that the company is (allegedly) taking the wireless industry seriously, building a standalone 5G network from scratch is still an immensely challenging and potentially time-consuming task that Ergen doesn't seem to be treating accordingly.

As highlighted by a number of analysts, Dish has yet to "materially" start its big 5G buildout, which isn't stopping Ergen from teasing the construction of the "best network in the United States" while claiming he doesn't like to "spend a lot of time talking about it."

The problem is that's actually all the company has been doing for the last few months, hyping up this groundbreaking 5G network without getting a lot of work done or even securing the necessary financing to ramp up its efforts soon.

The name of the (prepaid) game is profit


Despite failing to announce a strategic partnership with the likes of Google or Amazon and still expecting to spend no more than $10 billion on creating its "Netflix"-like virtualized network, which experts believe to be a wildly unrealistic figure, Dish has its sights set on a commercial 5G launch in at least one market by the end of this year.


In the meantime, Ergen, who thinks what his company is trying to achieve in the long run will all come down to the execution rather than reinventing the wheel, also wants to improve the profitability of its prepaid division

To pull that off, the new parent of Sprint's former subsidiary aims to do some "cleaning up" of Boost's customer portfolio with a focus on actually making money instead of simply, ahem, boosting those user numbers. That doesn't necessarily mean rates will go up, mind you, as Dish believes its prepaid competition is in fact neglecting an older demographic seeking ultra-affordable plans with small amounts of data included.

That's where some of Boost Mobile's new options come in, trying to encourage sensible data consumption habits, as well as discourage people to jump from operator to operator in search for free phones.

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