Dish Network saw both its revenues and its profits rise sharply in the most recent quarter: Revenues reached $733 million for the fourth quarter of 2020, up from $389 million from the year-ago quarter, while profits were $733 million for the fourth quarter 2020, compared to $389 million during the same period in 2019.

Total revenues for the full-year 2020 were $15.49 billion, compared with $12.81 billion in 2019. Net income for the full year was $1.76 billion, up from $1.4 billion in 2019.

Customer numbers, however, were not so rosy. Dish lost about 363,000 retail wireless customers during the fourth quarter, more than the 212,000 that it lost during the third quarter of the year. The company also lost 133,000 net pay TV subscribers, although the loss was narrower than the 194,000 that it lost during the fourth quarter of 2019.

In its Form 10-K filing, Dish said that its customer numbers were negatively impacted by the pandemic, with fewer subscriber activations and increased churn because the pandemic has inhibited in-person retail operations as well as its ability to perform in-person, in-home service activation. The company said that its commercial business has also been impacted by the reduction in operations of bars, hotels, airports and other businesses.

Dish also warned that its wireless subscriber base could be even more significantly impacted by the shutdown of T-Mobile US’ CDMA network, because the majority of its users rely on that network currently. T-Mobile US has told Dish that it plans to turn down the CDMA network in January 2022 — less than a year away. Dish said that its subscribers would have to get a new device, new SIM card or a software update in order to continue receiving wireless service when T-Mo turns down that network — and transitioning subscribers could cause significant costs and/or increase Dish’s customer churn, the company said.

Dish ended the fourth quarter of 2020 with 9.055 million retail wireless subscribers. In its pay TV services, it closed out the quarter with 11.29 million (8.82 million Dish TV subs and 2.47 Sling TV subs).

For the full year of 2020, Dish activated about 2.093 new wireless subscribers but on-net, posted a customer loss for the year of about 575,000 customers. Its wireless average revenue per user for the year was $38.24.

Dish also announced today that it signed a master agreement with network infrastructure company SBA to lease sites and have SBA perform pre-construction services for the 5G network that Dish is planning to build.

That announcement follows on Dish’s November agreement with Crown Castle, which gives Dish access to up to 20,000 towers, fiber transport and pre-construction services from Crown. Dish noted that it has invested more than $21 billion in spectrum licenses, either in direct purchases or non-controlling investments in other entities that hold licenses. It expects to spend around $10 billion on building a 5G network.

The company said that in December, it completed a successful field validation of the network it plans to build, with a fully virtualized Standalone 5G core and an O-RAN-compliant radio.


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