Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Denver news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Des Moines news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Minneapolis-St. Paul news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tampa Bay news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Charlotte news in your inbox

Catch up on the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Dish chairman Charlie Ergen in 2012. Photo: Karl Gehring/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Rather than try to convince skeptics he is serious about the wireless business, Dish Network Chairman Charlie Ergen tells Axios he is going to focus on building a 5G network as fast as possible. Ideally, he said he wants the first city up and running by late next year.

Why it matters: With the deal announced on Friday, Dish has all the spectrum it needs to build a national 5G network, but critics have been skeptical the company has the commitment to do so.

Driving the news: Under a settlement with the Justice Department, Sprint and T-Mobile struck a wide-ranging deal with Dish that will give the satellite TV provider spectrum, Sprint's prepaid business, a national roaming agreement and other components to create what regulators and Dish say will be a fourth national wireless competitor.

In an interview Friday after the deal was announced, Ergen said the first step in his wireless plan will be to make the Boost brand he is acquiring from Sprint more competitive and expand into postpaid business.

  • That's the traditionally more lucrative part of the business, where customers with better credit spend more per month.

Timing: Because Dish is building what is known as a standalone 5G network (not building on top of an existing LTE network), it needs to wait for the next version of the 5G standard, which is due to be approved around the middle of next year.

  • Assuming that happens, Ergen said he would like to have the first city with a Dish 5G network operational about six months later.

Money: Ergen says the company has enough cash to finance the initial part of the T-Mobile deal and network build, but acknowledges Dish will eventually need more money.

  • "We have money on hand today to acquire Boost and start building our network for a couple of years," he said. "We ultimately will need capital."

Flexibility: But while there are restrictions on handing over control of the business to someone else, Ergen said the deal allows Dish the flexibility to partner with others, including a tech company like Amazon or Google.

Experience: Addressing the company's lack of experience running a wireless business, Ergen pointed to the work in recent years to build a narrowband wireless network for IoT devices.

  • "Obviously we have execution risk," he said. "There’s no guarantee we will be successful."
  • But, he notes that the company defied skeptics in building its satellite business, competing against Big Cable and General Motors (which then owned DirecTV).

Skeptics: As for allegations Dish has been gathering spectrum for years without building a network, Ergen said: "We weren’t hoarding spectrum. We were accumulating enough spectrum to go compete agains the industry giants."

  • But at the same time, he said he doubts anything he says will convince those who are betting against Dish.

We'll have more from Ergen in Monday's edition of Login, the Axios Tech Newsletter. You can subscribe to the free daily newsletter here.

Go deeper

2 hours ago - World

Special report: Trump's U.S.-China transformation

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

President Trump began his term by launching the trade war with China he had promised on the campaign trail. By mid-2020, however, Trump was no longer the public face of China policy-making as he became increasingly consumed with domestic troubles, giving his top aides carte blanche to pursue a cascade of tough-on-China policies.

Why it matters: Trump alone did not reshape the China relationship. But his trade war shattered global norms, paving the way for administration officials to pursue policies that just a few years earlier would have been unthinkable.

McConnell: Trump "provoked" Capitol mob

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Tuesday that the pro-Trump mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 was "provoked by the president and other powerful people."

Why it matters: Trump was impeached by the House last week for "incitement of insurrection." McConnell has not said how he will vote in Trump's coming Senate impeachment trial, but sources told Axios' Mike Allen that the chances of him voting to convict are higher than 50%.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

GOP leaders skip Trump sendoff in favor of church with Biden

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) in July. Photo by Erin Scott-Pool/Getty Images

Congressional leaders, including House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, will skip President Trump's departure ceremony in Maryland tomorrow morning in favor of attending mass with incoming President Joe Biden ahead of his inauguration, congressional sources familiar with their plans tell Axios.

Why it matters: Their decision is a clear sign of unity before Biden takes the oath of office.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

Sign up for Mike Allen’s daily Axios AM and PM newsletters to get smarter, faster on the news that matters.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!