DISH Network focused on Connectivity

The November 9th analysts’ results telephone conference with DISH Network’s senior executives seemed more focused on founder Charlie Ergen’s views on the prospects for connectivity. He explained that DISH now had a “second opportunity” to build on the DTH business that started in 1992.

Ergen was asked to comment on his thinking and potential strategy for the wireless spectrum that DISH (and EchoStar) has accumulated over the past years. Ergen told analysts that perhaps there were now “a few more options on the table for us”.

Ergen spoke of the “massive” need for connectivity in the future. “Technology is all about timing. And we were very fortunate to hit the satellite television market when Congress had passed a law that cable programmers had to sell to us and that the technology had gotten good enough to build big satellites and the digital compression actually worked not just in the laboratory but worked for consumers.”

“For wireless we think we hit that the right timing as 5G comes about and as connectivity becomes greater – a greater need for companies. And the people in the business today have really good networks for voice and design for voice, but they haven’t, and they can’t overnight upgrade their networks to connectivity networks.”

Ergen added: “But long term because, first of all, our video business – we probably don’t get as much credit for our video business as we should. It’s not dead, it’s still a very, very profitable business, and there’s things that the industry can do to continue to do that if they move in that direction.”

“And then the connectivity side, people underestimate just how [much] connectivity [they need]. And there are companies that are worth over $500 billion today, one worth almost $1 trillion, that they don’t have a business unless they’re connected. The next big $500 billion company is going to come out of connectivity.”

He thanked the many people who helped him get started in DTH, and how people in the wireless business were also extremely helpful. “I never thought we get a second chance to do something pretty revolutionary. And we’re able to do that and we’re building that team of people to do that. And there’s no guarantee of success, but logically there’s not any question in my mind that people have to be connected. And I don’t understand AI, and I don’t understand Virtual Reality, and I don’t understand smart grids. And I don’t understand jet engines that download terabytes of data every millisecond. And I just don’t understand any of that stuff. There’s people in Silicon Valley, I don’t understand what they do. But I’ve never seen one of those guys that can make money without being connected.”

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