New Broadband Offerings From Dish Network
August 16, 2012

Dish Network Preparing Proprietary, Satellite-based Broadband Service

Michael Harper for — Your Universe Online

Reports from both Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal today suggest satellite TV provider Dish Network is preparing to offer a “proprietary, satellite-based” broadband service across the US, according to People Familiar With the Matter.

Such a move could help Dish Network compete with other cable and satellite providers who also offer broadband services, such as Verizon and their FiOS service. According to sources for both Bloomberg and the Journal, Dish Network could be ready to roll out this service to their customers by the end of the year.

Dish Network plans to use the EchoStar satellite (launched into orbit on July 5) to provide the broadband service to users across America. Though the satellite is capable of delivering 15 megabits per second download speeds, the sources tell Bloomberg that Dish Network will likely limit this speed to an even slower 5 megabits to allow for expansion. With this configuration, Dish and EchoStar expect to be able to take on 2 million broadband Internet customers.

Dish is now able to provide this service to Americans thanks to the move to higher-frequency bands of spectrum, offering faster download speeds to even more people. Dish´s new broadband offerings, for example, could provide many in rural areas with a broadband connection where cable broadband isn´t available.

Dish and EchoStar were once a part of the same company, though they parted ways in January 2008. Now, they share the same chairman in Charlie Ergen, though they´re still working out the details as far as how they split any revenue from this venture and how much this service will cost customers.

Dish already offers a satellite broadband service, of course, thanks to a partnership with California company ViaSat. There are only select areas in the US which can receive the benefits of the ViaSat deal, however, mostly east of the Mississippi River and the West Coast. Dish´s newest venture will help to augment these current offerings and increase its coverage. Dish is also expected to bundle together their current entertainment options, placing them in direct competition with AT&T, rival DirectTV and Verizon´s FiOS.

Before Dish can roll out this new service to their customers and rural areas all over America, the FCC needs to approve their use of this wireless spectrum. Once this spectrum is approved, Dish may have to start looking to expand even further so as to maintain the 5 megabits per second speeds. Currently, the company has 14 million subscribers. As such, they could reach their 2 million limit quite quickly.

The speeds from this alleged new service are much slower than those of their competitors. For example, Comcast offers download speeds of up to 305 megabits per second. Verizon´s FiOS gets close to this, offering speeds up to 300 megabits per second. Those sources familiar with the matter, however, are saying Dish´s newest broadband service is meant for those users who live in more rural areas unreached by Comcast´s or Verizon´s fiber.

In a January interview, Dish´s CEO said their potential for this market is “substantial, given the nearly 8 million to 10 million mostly rural American households that are unserved.”

Dish could be releasing this new broadband service as early as next month.