Dish Network chairman Charlie Ergen outlined a number of approaches the company is considering to recoup massive investments in IoT and 5G networks, with rural operator deals one of the frontrunners.

Speaking at a Competitive Carriers Association event, Ergen argued Dish Network offers a key advantage to potential partners: “Because we’re going to be virtualised and because we’ll be in the cloud for the most part…in our network you should be able to just lease a slice of our spectrum and it [will] look like yours.”

Ergen noted the company is currently constructing a NB-IoT network, which is scheduled for completion by March 2020, and said it is already planning for 5G, with fixed wireless access being considered among other potential business models.

The company recently invested in Tarana Wireless, which is building a fixed wireless access product designed to provide coverage over a range of 40 miles. Though the technology is yet to be field tested, Ergen said it could provide Dish Network with an avenue to offer a cost-effective triple-play bundle of mobility, video and broadband services.

Outside the box
Ergen added the company is toying with other ideas, such as a model for network access where connectivity can be purchased in short stints and costs rise with demand.

He flagged rural regions as a key area of focus for its 5G efforts given the crowded competitive environment in urban areas and sought to lure potential partners to the table by noting “we can be a path for you to 5G”.

Company executives previously said Dish Network plans to spend up to $1 billion on its NB-IoT network and as much as $10 billion on construction of its 5G network.