Satellite operator Dish Network advanced a plan to construct an NB-IoT network in the US by March 2020, naming Ericsson as its vendor of choice for core and radio access equipment for the project.

The pair said development work began earlier this year when Dish tapped Ericsson to complete an initial radio frequency design for the network. Tests of 3GPP standards-based NB-IoT data transmissions were also conducted using Dish’s spectrum, validating extended range connections up to 100km from a base station.

In addition to providing Dish’s core network, Ericsson will supply 5G-capable radios for the NB-IoT network, setting the stage for future upgrades.

The news comes as Dish strives to meet spectrum utilisation requirements for its AWS-4 and 700MHz licences set by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Dish has until March 2020 to meet those standards.

Deployment plan shaping up
The NB-IoT network rollout is the first part of Dish’s two-phase spectrum usage strategy, which also includes the subsequent launch of a nationwide 5G network.

Though financial details of the Ericsson deal were not released, Dish executives previously said it plans to spend between $500 million and $1 billion building its NB-IoT network, with the majority of the outlay coming in 2019.

In May, Dish co-founder and chairman Charlie Ergen told an investor conference the 5G deployment could cost up to $10 billion and include the construction of 50,000 towers. He did not provide a timeline for completion of that project.