By Arriana McLymore
(Reuters) – Dish Network Corp, which vowed to build a 5G network by 2023 to take on the big three U.S. telecommunications giants, said on Thursday it is working with software company Mavenir to build its next-generation wireless network.
Dish said in a statement that the deal with Mavenir, a Texas-based mobile network software provider, will help it build its network through low-cost solutions that are less-reliant on cell towers and radio base stations.
Dish has said building a 5G network from the ground up through open-source technology gives the company a cheaper alternative and the flexibility to work with multiple vendors. The satellite TV and internet provider hopes that will also reduce costs by creating competition among vendors.
The legacy wireless carriers have relied on one or two vendors such as Ericsson or Nokia.
Dish, which originally opposed the merger of T-Mobile US Inc. and Sprint, made a deal with the Department of Justice to extend its network deployment deadlines to become the No. 4 U.S. wireless provider.
The Colorado-based company first started building its 5G network in 2017 with original Federal Communications Commission deadlines for completion by March 2020. It subsequently requested that the FCC modify its spectrum licenses to reflect its commitments to the DOJ.
The deadline was extended to June 2023 as part of an agreement during the T-Mobile-Sprint merger. The delays, however, have put Dish’s $20 billion unused wireless spectrum portfolio under increased scrutiny.
“Time in winding down for Dish,” said Roger Entner, an analyst at Recon Analytics. “If they don’t find a way to build a network, they lose their spectrum.”
If Dish fails to meet the 2023 deadline, it faces a $2.2 billion fine.
Entner said he expects Dish to announce more partnerships this year as the company races to meet an FCC deadline to provide 70% of the United States with its network.The company has announced a number of requests for proposals to build different aspects of the network.Earlier this month, however, Dish said it would lay off an undisclosed number of employees and was re-evaluating its investments, citing the coronavirus outbreak.
Last year, Japanese e-commerce firm Rakuten said it planned to become the country’s fourth-largest wireless provider through a cloud-based 4G network. But it delayed those plans in September, citing issues with technology.
(Reporting by Arriana McLymore in Raleigh, North Carolina; Editing by Dan Grebler)