Company / division: DISH
Dish Allows Alexa Voice Control of Set Top Boxes (May 22, 2017)
The FCC recently held an auction of spectrum to be freed up by broadcasters and made available for wireless services, in the 600MHz band, which is well suited to long-distance and in-building coverage. T-Mobile was the only wireless carrier among the big winners, with the two largest carriers having cleaned up in the previous auction, and a cash-constrained Sprint sitting this one out too (AT&T did win licenses worth $900 million, but T-Mobile spent $8 billion). The other big bidders were DISH, which spent nearly as much as T-Mobile ($6.2 billion), and Comcast, which recently announced its wireless service based on Verizon’s network but could eventually launch its own network. Though T-Mobile has always crowed about how much spectrum it has per customer, that was always more of a reflection of its smaller number of customers rather than a massive spectrum trove, and it lacked low-band spectrum. It has now made big strides in solving that problem, and plans to put at least some of that spectrum to work right away (though much of it will be unavailable for several years while the broadcasters go through the process of vacating it, with much of that unavailable spectrum covering the densest markets). It’s also worth noting that no phones in the US today support the 600MHz band – that support is likely to come early next year with a new Qualcomm modem, so even if T-Mobile does put a third or so of its new spectrum to work this year, it won’t do anyone any good until then. So, if you’re a US wireless customer today, none of this makes any difference for now, and it’ll only make much of a difference a year or several down the line if you’re a T-Mobile customer (or in limited cases an AT&T customer). Or as and when Comcast and DISH decide to put that spectrum to use.
Dish unveils a 4K Android TV streaming box with Netflix, Sling TV, and local channels – The Verge (Jan 3, 2017)
Though cord-cutting is often seen as “breaking the bundle”, in reality many cord cutters end up creating their own stitched-together bundles of multiple streaming services, and in many cases an antenna for over the air content is part of the mix too. DISH’s Sling recognizes that, and this box combines the Sling service, Netflix, YouTube, and OTA channels into a single box running Android TV. That makes it a fairly compelling box – arguably more so than most of the other Android TV boxes out there.