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Dish to raise another $500M to pay for 5G network

Dish Network said it plans a debt offering of about $500 million of its senior secured notes. Proceeds of the offering will be used for general corporate purposes, including the buildout of its 5G wireless network.

The notes will be secured by Dish Network assets, the company said in a press release. This latest debt offering from Dish follows a $2 billion debt offering that the company finalized last November. That offering, like this one, was to be used for the buildout of its 5G network.

The fact that Dish is raising more capital for its wireless network is not surprising. In November, analysts at S&P Global Market Intelligence predicted that Dish would need to raise more capital in 2023 and 2024 to cover the costs of its ongoing network deployment and its debt obligations.

Dish is under pressure to aggressively deploy its 5G network. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requires Dish to cover 70% of the population of the U.S. with its 5G network by June 14 or it will risk losing its spectrum licenses. The company must cover 75% of the population with its 5G network by mid-2025.

Dish ended Q3 with 10,000 cell sites deployed and coverage to 35% of the U.S. population. Nevertheless, the company has a long way to go to meet that mid-June deadline. Dish executives told investors during the company's Q3 earnings call that it is deploying new cell sites at a rate of about 1,000 sites per month, which puts it on target to meet its 70% coverage obligation.

Dish is losing one of its key executives in its 5G buildout. It announced earlier this month that Stephen Bye, who had been serving as chief commercial officer for its wireless network business since 2019 is leaving the company to serve as president of Ziff Davis’ Connectivity division. Bye will be joining Dish’s Board of Directors and continuing to provide the company with guidance on its wireless business.

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