EchoStar revealed a loss of 123,000 Boost Mobile prepaid phone customers in Q4 2023 as it issued its first numbers since completing a merger with Dish Network, with the decline contributing to a net loss of $2 billion for the period.

Retail wireless revenue fell to $898 million from $928 million in Q4 2022, with total sales down 8 per cent to $4.2 billion.

Dish Network shed 249,000 satellite TV customers and 65,000 Sling TV subscribers. It ended 2023 with 7.4 million retail wireless users.

The net loss compared with a profit of $984 million in Q4 2022.

It booked revenue of $17 billion for the full year, compared with $18.3 billion in 2022, attributed to subscriber losses, primarily in its pay-TV segment.

Cash crunch
EchoStar is facing mounting pressure to pay off a debt load which matures this year.

Bloomberg reported Dish Network accumulated around $21 billion of debt, primarily related to a 5G network build.

In an SEC filing, EchoStar’s auditors stated there is “substantial doubt about its ability to continue as a going concern” and highlighted an expectation by the company that it will “use a substantial amount of cash in the next 12 months”.

On EchoStar’s earnings call, CFO and EVP Paul Orban said it had $2.4 billion in cash and marketable securities at end-2023.

Debt maturing on 15 March will be covered by “cash on hand”, he said, noting financing will be required to pay off $2 billion in debt maturing on 24 November.

In the filing, the company noted a threat to its future 5G network plans if it cannot raise additional funding.

Moffett Nathanson senior MD Craig Moffett explained in a research note the decline in pay-TV and mobile subscribers indicates Dish Network’s business “is spiralling towards bankruptcy”.

On the call, EchoStar CEO Hamid Akhavan highlighted an option to raise additional funds by using the company’s spectrum assets.

“We’re going to take our time and make a transaction that is in the best interest of all parties.”

“I do not find myself and the company under the gun to make a transaction in a rapid fire [manner]”.

“Work is well underway to improve our capital structure, reset our retail wireless business and grow customer traffic on our network.”