While news of the pandemic outbreak has dominated headlines, Dish Network has been quietly building the foundation for its 5G network that is expected to be completed in 2023. The company announced its ambitious plans to construct the network in 2017, surprising many industry analysts who did not see a clear-cut path forward for the telecommunication giant.

Constructing a 5G network requires billions of dollars in investment, years of work to install the necessary infrastructure, and careful coordination with government entities. Dish has recently taken an arguably more sober approach to its ambitious 5G plans.

Adapting to a Changing Telecommunications Landscape

In business, adaptation is the name of the game. The numbers of subscribers to conventional TV services such as cable and dish have steadily but consistently fallen as users opt for cheaper, and often more convenient, entertainment providers like streaming services.

The network introduced its very own streaming service, Sling, in 2015. It is an “over-the-top” service, meaning that it bypasses the conventional cable and satellite services to deliver the product directly to the consumer via their internet connection.

The development of Sling proved Dish’s flexibility in the rapidly evolving television industry. Prior to this innovation, some experts had predicted the eventual demise of Dish due to an “outdated” business model. However, the company persists in 2020, despite the financial setbacks caused by the recent pandemic outbreak.

The Future of Dish’s 5G Network

The work ahead of Dish in seeing its 5G network come to fruition is extensive. First, the company faces the challenge of raising the necessary capital to complete the project. It still requires $10 billion in financing to see the project through – a tough ask in such cash-strapped times.

A lot is on the line with the company’s 5G rollout. Earlier this year, Earlier this year, a federal judge approved a merger between Dish and Sprint as the company moves into the prepaid mobile game. However, as part of the ruling, the judge included a provision requiring Dish to complete its 5G network in an effort to prevent a monopoly.

Charlie Ergen, co-founder of Dish, welcomed the ruling. Plans to build a 5G network had been in the works for years, coinciding nicely with the judicial decision to allow the merger with Sprint on the condition that the company complete its 5G project.

The Impact of the Pandemic on 5G Construction

Without a doubt, the recent novel pandemic outbreak has put a damper on the economy from coast to coast. Dish Network is no exception. The company’s leadership has admitted to the potential difficulties associated with finishing the 5G project by the 2023 deadline because of nervous investors, shifting national priorities, and the disruption to labor.

Observers expect the company to address the concerns raised over the capital needed and other logistical challenges during its upcoming May earnings call.

The economic devastation wrought by the current pandemic has already tanked many cash-strapped companies across industries. Economic forecasts for the near to medium future are dim. Billions of dollars in productivity have been lost, forcing many businesses to lay off employees.

Dish recently announced the lay-offs of a number of its technicians. CEO Erik Carlson called the cuts a “strategic” part of the company’s adaptive strategy in the wake of the pandemic that caught business leaders across the globe off-guard.

We will likely learn more about the network’s plans, and how they may have changed due to the pandemic, in the weeks ahead.