What Is DISH Doing With All That Spectrum?

DISH Network getting involved in the wireless industry is not as far fetched in 2020 as it has been in the past. The satellite giant is poised to become the fourth largest wireless carrier in the United States after the Sprint and T-Mobile merger is finalized. DISH is not waiting until then to begin getting involved in the wireless space. DISH is still one of the largest holders of wireless spectrum in the country. They are loaning out significant portions of that spectrum to existing carriers like T-Mobile, AT&T and Verizon in an effort to help keep everyone connected amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. This spectrum is being used by these existing carriers to shore up their LTE networks so that they can handle the increased load of people connecting during the day. The most effective tool against the spread of the coronavirus continues to be social distancing. More people stuck at home has led to a serious influx in concurrent users for wireless and broadband networks. The type of spectrum that DISH is loaning out is varied by carrier and seems to be tailored to each carrier’s specific needs. AT&T, for example, is getting 20Mhz of Band 66 spectrum, the spectrum DISH owns nationwide. T-Mobile is getting low-band 71 spectrum, and Verizon is getting Band 66 AWS-3 spectrum, the same spectrum all carriers use in some capacity. These spectrum loans are not insignificant. Not only is DISH Network garnering some good will from the wireless community, but they are immediately improving many people’s lives. People who could one day decide to be DISH customers when they enter the wireless market. PC Magazine’S Sascha Segan estimates that some consumers will see at least 20Mbps boost to their 4G LTE speeds as a result of DISH’s generosity. Of course, the amount of time DISH is willing to loan out this spectrum remains to be seen. Everyone is hoping the COVID-19 pandemic is brought to heel quickly. DISH is still one of the largest holders of spectrum in the country. This became even more true after the recent Federal Communications Commission (FCC) auction of third millimeter wave spectrum for 5G networks. DISH Network, T-Mobile and Sprint came away from the auction controlling virtually all of the 47GHz spectrum between them. The full value of that 47Ghz spectrum remains to be seen. Brian Goemmer, president and founder of AllNet Insights spoke with FierceWireless about where the 47 Ghz spectrum is going. “A clear challenge is whether an ecosystem develops for 47 GHz…The other inherent problem is how anxious is Apple going to be to develop an iPhone for 47 GHz,” said Goemmer. Remember, T-Mobile and Sprint are going to combine their spectrum assets once their merger is finalized. That will push DISH into a firm second place when it comes to spectrum holdings. Sources: The Verge

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