Dish Network eyes Sequans LTE chips for OTT play

LAS VEGAS and DENVER –Sequans Communications is talking to Dish Network about supplying it with technology that could help Dish launch an over-the-top video service for broadband wireless devices, a senior executive at the Paris-based LTE chip vendor told The Donohue Report.

Dish is “more of a technology partner today, and interested in the possibilities that LTE technology” brings. “Not just [LTE] broadcast — but LTE in general,” Sequans VP of Worldwide Marketing Craig Miller said during an interview at the CTIA convention in Las Vegas earlier this week. “We stay in touch,” added Miller, whose company was the first to build chips that can support smartphones and tablets for Verizon’s LTE multicast product.

Based on public statements from Dish executives and demonstrations it ran at the CEDIA home automation convention in Denver this week, Dish likely will launch an over-the-top video service by the end of the year that will offer subscribers access to 4K Ultra HD programming. Dish also demonstrated connected-home services that will allow subscribers to control thermostats and dim lights from a tablet computer.

Tech vendors such as Sequans could grow revenue by supplying Dish with products for a new broadband wireless service that Dish could launch with the 1900 MHZ PCS H Block spectrum it acquired at an FCC auction in February for $1.544 billion. But Dish’s initial OTT product likely will rely on a bring-your-own broadband model where subscribers would pay Dish for a subscription video package delivered over-the-top of the broadband networks of cable operators and telcos.

Dish will be ready to share details of its 4K Ultra HD strategy by the time of the International CES in January, SVP of Product Management Vivek Khemka said during a media briefing in Denver Thursday at the CEDIA Expo.

Distributors are leaning on broadband Internet distribution for the industry’s first 4K Ultra HD programming services. Sony launched streaming movie service Video Unlimited 4K in September 2013 on IP-connected TVs and receivers, including Bravia TVs and Blu-ray players. Comcast and Samsung announced in February that they would team on an Ultra HD programming service available through apps running on smart TVs.

A user interface that Dish demonstrated on tablet computers at CEDIA could be a taste of what the guide for its OTT product will look like. It displayed the brands of programmers who have been the first to embrace distribution on new platforms and devices, including Mark Cuban’s AXS TV, Viacom-owned cable networks MTV and Comedy Central and Turner Broadcasting’s CNN and Cartoon Network.

Dish also teamed with advanced control and automation tech vendor Crestron on an app that lets subscribers control thermostats and window blinds with a tablet computer (see video of demo below).

Dish already sells OTT subscription packages containing foreign language networks through its DishWorld product. Its latest offer for new subscribers is a $14.95 monthly price on packages of networks available in 16 languages. That deal also includes a free Roku streaming video set-top.