How Dish Network’s $10B 5G build out could impact CRE

Dish Network co-founder and chairman Charlie Ergen said the company will take an initial step into the wireless industry with its nationwide NB-IoT wireless network, FierceWireless reports.
Ergen made the announcement during a keynote at the Connectivity Expo in Charlotte on May 23. He stated Dish Network might need $10 billion to build a 5G network that could support numerous Internet of Things (IoT) applications such as smart cities, self-driving cars, artificial intelligence and other high-tech services.
Dish plans to target industries that range from agriculture to healthcare with 5G. For commercial real estate owners, a Dish 5G network would provide another option to bolster their building’s wireless coverage if it becomes available. The more 5G networks that become availalble, the more affordable access to them could be for CRE owners. Plus, the enhanced coverage would make any building with 5G more attractive to potential tenants who increasingly want guarantees that their mobile devices will work effortlessly on whatever network on which they are operating.
While Ergen admitted Dish Network did not currently have that kind of investment capital on hand, he said Dish would operate similarly to a wireless startup, the same way the company did when it went into the satellite TV business years ago as it tries to succeed in the 5G business.
One advantage Ergen believes Dish has over other wireless carriers like AT&T and Verizon is it will enter the 5G field without previous 2G, 3G and 4G operations. “We have a clean sheet of paper,” Ergen said. That clean slate will allow Dish to build its 5G network with virtualization, network pieces and low latency that is designed specially for IoT products and services.
Ergen explained that while current wireless networks are designed to accommodate 300 million smartphone users in the U.S., in the future there will be 300 billion things that will need that coverage.
“In technology, it’s all about timing,” he said.
Dish has less than 650 days to create its H Block spectrum to meet FCC’s spectrum lease build-out requirements. According to Ergen, Dish will use the spectrum it has available to build out its NB-IoT network as the standard for that technology is available from the 3GPP, but Dish will eventually move to the 5G standard once it can be accessed. Dish plans to put between $500 million and $1 billion through 2020 for its initial NB-IoT.
“We’re playing the hand that was dealt to us,” Ergen said as he explained Dish’s current spectrum and 600 MHz licenses are not available since TV broadcasters are still occupying those airwaves.
During the keynote, Ergen stated the 5G opportunity is a significant one and Dish as a company has a history of taking big chances on big opportunities.
“We’re one of the few companies that can think long term,” he said. “We’re confident. I don’t think we are cocky or arrogant about it.”

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