Ergen: “We want to become a connectivity company”

Charlie Ergen, co-founder and chairman/CEO of DISH Network (and the separate Echostar satellite business), talking to equity analysts following on from DISH Network’s quarterly trading results (see separate story), said that DiSH “wanted to become a connectivity company”.

Ergen had been asked whether the recent rumours naming DISH along with Softbank and cellular operator Sprint, and declined to comment on the rumours, but stated: “[Over the next two years] There’s going to be increased M&A and things beyond what it probably was in the past. And so I think that the communications industry – you’ve probably seen it in the content industry, I think you’ll see the same thing in the communication industry. And we’re not the biggest player out there. So, we’re probably not the one that’s was going to be driving that train.”

Ergen added: “We recognise that our core business is mature, it’s a declining business, which is why Roger [Lynch] came in to start Sling and why Erik [Carlson, President/DISH] and his team are pretty disciplined about where they spend money in acquiring new customers because we want only long term. We don’t want customers for a year or two.”

“Obviously, for us to have to increase the value of our company, we will have to put those [wireless and spectrum] assets to use and they’ll have to generate cash flow. But that’s not something that you can snap your finger, in technology that’s not something you can do in six months. That’s going to be a long-term process for us,” said Ergen.

“In our case, 5G is a paradigm shift within the telecommunications industry for a variety of reasons and that’s really kind of a 2020, and this means standards are not even set yet. The standards have to get set and then you’ve got to get product out there. So, you’re realistically looking at 2020, 2021, 2022 to actually implement spectrum on a basis that uses the latest technology. And I don’t think you want to spend a tremendous amount of money on last year’s technology. So that’s how we look at it. Again I don’t think it’s any surprise to be an investor in DISH, you’ve got to have a little bit longer term horizon.”

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