Dish to Build IoT Network

Dish Network is raising $1 billion in a bond sale expected to be used by Dish to build an internet of things network, using NB-LTE. That helps clarify a key part of Dish Network’s wireless strategy, which is to avoid losing rights to its spectrum because it has not made meaningful progress towards building an actual network.

According to Federal Communications Commission rules, Dish has to activate a network with 40 percent signal coverage, using the  700 MHz licenses it purchased in 2008 (a deadline it will miss), or, alternatively,  reach a 70 percent buildout by March 2020. That latter target is what Dish now will have to meet. Similar requirements are in place for other spectrum Dish has rights to use.

By focusing on NB-LTE, Dish can claim it is building a network that does not compete head to head with the LTE networks operated by the other big mobile service providers, as NB-LTE aims to support machine-to-machine devices, not human end users.

Much still remains to be established. Dish has no special competence in M2M services and industries, and no operational experience with mobile services. It likely would need a partner to both build and provide retail services. Beyond that, the market size for M2M services is unproven, if considered the next wave in mobile revenues and Dish’s ability to gain enough market share also is unknown, given competition from several would-be nationwide IoT networks and IoT efforts by the other four major U.S. mobile service providers.
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