Dish Network finally has a green light to offer 4G, so when do we get our satellite phones?

dish network surprise

Dish Network has been getting a lot of buzz lately, and it ironically has nothing to do with its television service. While the company continues to straddle along with its 14 million satellite television subscribers, the company has made some interesting, though a tad odd, shifts in the market, ranging from acquisitions of bankrupt brands to pushing out satellite broadband for the world. While the acquisitions and new services are certainly an act of diversification by the satellite telecom company, the real question is just what in the world Dish has been planning with the wireless world? Is Dish trying to become a carrier? Merge its services with one, or just exit the market?

For months now, Dish has been flip flopping between a myriad of plans, floating ideas like Blockbuster Mobile stores, teaming up with Sprint or Google, and offering up its own wireless 4G by satellite. At first glance, it seems like Dish just really wants to burn that Christmas bonus in a hurry. For months now, the company has been hinting at an entry into the wireless market. Its recent offering of satellite broadband service at home and in cars only furthers the logic they what is dish network planning delorme inreachwant to play the game as hard as AT&T, Verizon, and other multidisciplinary telecom companies.

Back in November, word got out that Google and Dish Network were discussing plans to enter the market together as a joint wireless venture, though neither admitted any progress or acknowledged the discussion publicly. Now rumor has it that Sprint has been chatting it up with Dish, specifically in regard to Dish’s recent FCC approval for 4G usage of their satellite band. So the question is posed: Does Dish have what it takes – and what it needs – to be the first satellite wireless hybrid network?

“The parts are there” Rob Enderle, Principal Analyst of the Enderle Group, told us, “but getting them to work together will be very difficult.” Enderle says the problem is that Dish can’t run a network purely on satellite cost-effectively, and that Dish Network would need to partner up with wireless heavyweights, and that’s something he doesn’t see happening. Though Google’s fiber network grows with every week, neither it or Dish have “a national wireless footprint,” and that could pose problem if Dish plans on competing with the very companies that own all the cell towers. For years, Verizon and Sprint have shared roaming service with one another. Dish would have to strike affordable roaming agreements with multiple carriers to offer up satellite service in rural areas and backing it with some 3G (or even 4G) footprint. 

The very idea of a hybrid satellite / cellular wireless service poses technological problems. It’s bad enough that satellite phones have notoriously large antennas. One can only imagine how Dish will stuff 3G, 4G LTE, and satellite service all into one device. There have yet to be Android satellite phones, and it’d be tough for Dish to sell a mainstream wireless service without a flagship smartphone that can do everything modern phone buyers expect, whether it be Android, iPhone, or Windows Phone. The challenge is getting everything to work just right from a mixture of logistics and technology, and it looks just plain impossible to figure out.

On the other hand, Dish doesn’t have to go all-in with this bet. It could simply offer its 4G bandwidth as a reliable LTE hotspot alternative at a competitive price point. GPS mapping & service company DeLorme is among a small collection of companies offering Bluetooth-powered accessories for iPhones and Android devices alike, allowing users access to devices such as the inReach to communicate via satellite, send text messages, and get data access for mapping your present location. Dish may not be set to offer a full-blown wireless service, but it could offer a supplementary, supply-side service for carriers like Sprint, and offer a hotspot device for those looking for satellite-based internet. This service could very well mix in with the other wireless carriers on the market, maintain a niche, and attract (or even blend in) with Dish Home Internet customers. If Dish can’t get a big partner like Google or Sprint on its side with its spectrum, a niche service could still stand as an effective backup plan for the company.

Lastly, Dish could just call it a day and sell its spectrum. This is perhaps the last thing Dish would want to do, but blending the wireless world with satellite technology may prove to be too expensive and difficult. A quick sell is always an option, and with folks like AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint with plenty of equity, and Google looking to jump into the wireless ring, there’s no doubt someone will take the spectrum off Dish’s hands if it really wanted to call it quits.

Whether Dish decides to throw its hat into the mobile ring or not, all eyes are on the company as it make its play. Dish could start a wireless venture, offer a supply-side service, or just sell its spectrum and move on. However, with plans in the making for over a year, and we don’t think Dish will abandon everything overnight. By purchasing Blockbuster, Dish proved that it can think outside the box. We can’t wait to see what it has up its sleeve.

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not reflect the beliefs of Digital Trends.

Emerging Tech

Elon Musk receives FCC approval to launch over 7,500 satellites into space

Not surprisingly, SpaceX is thinking big with Starlink, its space-based global broadband network. This week, the company received FCC approval to launch 7,518 satellites into a low-Earth orbit for its satellite internet service.

Save up to $850 with the best smartphone deals for November 2018

Need a better phone but don't want to spend a fortune? It's never a bad time to score a new smartphone and save some cash. We rounded up the best smartphone deals available that can save you as much as $850.
Social Media

Build a wish list and shop videos with Instagram’s latest shopping update

Eyeing a product on Instagram? Now there are more ways to shop from the social network. Instagram just rolled out options to save products in a collection as users can also now shop from videos.
Emerging Tech

New simulation shows how Elon Musk’s internet satellite network might work

Elon Musk has the dream of building a network for conveying internet traffic via thousands of satellites. A new simulation created by a computer scientist looks at how feasible the idea is.

Cyber Monday 2018: When it takes place and where to find the best deals

Cyber Monday is still a ways off, but it's never too early to start planning ahead. With so many different deals to choose from during one of the biggest shopping holidays of the year, going in with a little know-how makes all the…

How to choose the best MicroSD cards for your smartphone or tablet

If you need some extra storage space and your device supports it, then a MicroSD card is an obvious place to start. Here, we look at what to consider and suggest some of the best MicroSD cards for your smartphone.

Tumblr for iOS vanishes from App Store, possibly due to inappropriate content

Tumblr for iOS is currently only allowing searches in Safe Mode, and it is not available on the App Store. The speculation is that the app's disappearance had something to do with inappropriate content.

Common Kindle Fire problems, and how to fix them

Is your Amazon tablet giving you grief? Is it refusing to behave the way you expect? Take a deep breath -- everything will be fine. Here are some widely reported Kindle Fire problems and a few possible solutions to go with them.

All the best Target Black Friday deals for 2018

The mega-retailer opens its doors to the most competitive shoppers at 6 p.m. on Thursday, November 22, and signs indicate that the retailer means business this year. We've sifted through all of the deals, from consumer electronics to small…

Barnes & Noble’s new Nook tablet now has its own keyboard cover and dock

Barnes & Noble recently launched its largest mobile device to date, the Nook Tablet 10.1. Now the company has released a couple of accessories designed exclusively for the new Nook: A keyboard cover and a charging dock.

Make some time for the best smartwatch deals for November 2018

Smartwatches make your life easier by sending alerts right on your wrist. Many also provide fitness-tracking features. So if you're ready to take the plunge into wearables and want to save money, read on for the best smartwatch deals.

Apple applies for a patent on a wrap-around iPhone display

Previously, Apple was awarded a patent for a foldable phone, and the company has been rumored to be working on one. But it's not at all similar to other concepts. Here's everything we know about a folding iPhone.
Smart Home

All the best Amazon Black Friday deals for 2018

Amazon may be an online-only retailer, but that doesn’t mean its Black Friday sales are anything to sniff at. In fact, due to its online status, Amazon has huge flexibility with the range of products and deals it can offer. Here's our…

How does fast charging work? Here’s every single standard compared

Modern smartphones can charge in mere minutes instead of hours. How does fast charging work? Here's a guide to the most popular standards, including Qualcomm Quick Charge, Apple fast charging, OnePlus Dash Charge, and more.