Dish Network will merge its operations with EchoStar, the satellite internet company that runs HughesNet. The merger is meant to provide more financial flexibility for Dish as it seeks to become a major competitor in the wireless service business, the co-founder and chairman of both companies, Charlie Ergen, told The Wall Street Journal. After the merger, EchoStar CEO Hamid Akhavan will serve as president and CEO, while Dish CEO Erik Carlson will make his exit.
EchoStar and Dish were originally part of the same company, operating under the EchoStar name. In 2008, the company renamed itself Dish and split its satellite internet wing off under the EchoStar brand. Today’s merger reunites the two, which are still each under the purview of Ergen, who stepped down as CEO of Dish in 2017.
“There are a lot of good companies in satellite and a lot in wireless, but not a lot do both of those things,” Ergen told the Journal.
Dish is making a pivot to 5G as its pay-TV service continues losing subscribers. The company bought Boost Mobile in 2020 in an attempt to become the fourth major wireless service provider in the US, and it began rolling out its 5G network last year.
The company wants this merger to help it achieve that goal. It said recently that its wireless service now covers 70 percent of the US population, meeting its commitment to the FCC. But the network still needs work, and Dish’s Boost Infinite postpaid cell phone service still uses other networks.
Because Ergen owns more than half of each company, the Dish / EchoStar merger is almost more like consolidating two bank accounts. The deal doesn’t immediately do anything to improve Dish’s network, but the expanded resources could help it get there.