5G Phone

If UScellular were to sell some of its wireless assets, “under most scenarios that’s an opportunity and a
positive for where we’re trying to go,” said Charlie Ergen, chairman of the board of DISH Network and
Echostar today.

His comments came on a call announcing plans to combine DISH and Echostar. DISH is building a 5G mobile network aimed at competing with wireless giants AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile. Acquiring UScellular assets could help DISH meet network buildout deadlines.

UScellular parent TDS said last week that it would consider a sale of UScellular network assets.

Tom Cullen, DISH executive vice president of corporate development, noted that UScellular “operates in areas that we haven’t fully built out,” which could help meet deployment deadlines. Ergen noted that there might be regulatory constraints on DISH’s ability to buy UScellular assets but that those constraints would be less likely for DISH than for other companies.

Fixed Wireless Also on the Table

The 90-minute conference call that DISH and Echostar executives conducted today to discuss the plans
to combine the companies offered financial analysts and media the opportunity to ask the execs about a
wide range of topics not directly related to the merger.

For example, when asked about fixed wireless access (FWA) opportunities, Ergen noted that DISH’s 5G
network is capable of supporting FWA service. Noting that the company is watching what competitors
are doing in this area, an apparent reference to Verizon and T-Mobile, Ergen said that where DISH has
available bandwidth, it might be able to make a case for offering FWA.

John Swieringa, president and chief operating officer of DISH Wireless, also noted that the company’s 12 GHz spectrum could be well suited to support fixed wireless, pending an FCC decision. Swieringa noted that DISH holds the “vast majority” of 12 GHz spectrum in major markets.

The company has a 500 MHz swath that originally supported one-way satellite transmission of video content. While the FCC recently ruled that the spectrum could not be used for mobile communications, the agency left the door open to using the spectrum for FWA.

DISH would likely not deploy FWA in the 12 GHz band until carrier aggregation uplink technology is more mature, however, Swieringa said.

DISH and Echostar executives also said they see opportunities to support satellite-to-smartphone service.

A replay of today’s call is available at this link.

Details about plans to combine DISH and Echostar can be found in this press release.

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