Dish Network chairman Charlie Ergen revealed the company will use an open RAN architecture for its future 5G network, a decision he said will allow it to experiment with innovative new vendors and technologies.

During the company’s Q4 2019 earnings call, Ergen argued the move will give Dish Network an edge over mobile incumbents: “The way to compete is to build a better network, not to build the same network using old technology.”

The comments came ahead of the company’s expected entry into the US wireless market this year as a new fourth competitor following the close of a pending merger between Sprint and T-Mobile US.

Though he declined to name strategic partners, Ergen said its focus on open RAN “opens up a whole different range of options,” adding “we can experiment a little bit. We can use some providers that maybe aren’t household names that have done great things in the lab or great things in other parts of the world”.

Getting started
Ergen noted the operator will have to wait for planning permission at its target sites to proceed with the 5G build.

He added progress will also be constrained by hardware and software availability: “Some of the things that we’re doing are in production but they’re not off the shelf today, so we have to wait for those things.”

All told, the company said it expects wireless capex to total between $250 million and $500 million in 2020.

Dish Network reported Q4 profit of $389 million, up from $337 million in the comparable 2018 quarter. Revenue of $3.24 billion was down slightly from $3.31 billion. It lost 194,000 pay-TV subscribers, an improvement from a loss of 334,000 in Q4 2018.