Equity analysts at Deutsche Bank (DB) have held an investors conference in Arizona, and one of the speakers was Charlie Ergen, Chairman/CEO at Dish (and Echostar). Ergen told delegates that he remained enthusiastic about 5G’s prospects and his portfolio of investments in spectrum.
DB, in its report on the event, says: “Ergen was steadfast in expressing his enthusiasm toward building a ‘real’ 5G network, utilising the vast majority (~100 MHz) of DISH’s spectrum portfolio, which is about 2/3 downlink and 1/3 uplink. He reiterated that the cost to build the nationwide 5G network would be about $10 billion, but also said that DISH will not invest in the build-out until it has a firm revenue backlog to cover the build cost.”
The report added that Ergen plans to leverage partners in the build-out, although he downplayed, without eliminating, the possibility that partners would own equity in DISH’s 5G business. He talked about potential partners being companies that provide backhaul, towers, edge storage and compute, and software. Partners could be compensated with cash or network capacity.
Ergen explained that his planned network will not be made up of small cells, instead, it will be a macro cell network that leverages the Release 16 standard; which will enable ultra-high bandwidth, 1 million simultaneous connections per square mile (a large increase compared to today’s networks), and extremely low latency (1 ms).
DB says: “Ergen’s vision is to become the ‘AWS of wireless’ through a Neutral Host model, allowing clients to own a slice of the network through virtualisation, which they can fully control and provision for their company’s own applications and connected devices. He expects DISH to become the lowest cost provider of bandwidth in the industry. He suggested that DISH’s all-in cost for its spectrum and build-out would be ~$1 per MHz POP. Ergen expects other wireless carriers to become his largest clients.”