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Dish CEO steps down to focus on wireless network ambitions

It doesn't want to depend solely on satellite TV.
Kim Kulish/Corbis via Getty Images

Dish hasn't been shy about pursuing its wireless dreams over the years, and now that's leading to a shakeup of its core leadership. Longstanding CEO Charlie Ergen is stepping down from the top spot (though not as chairman) to "devote more attention" to the wireless business. Current operating chief Erik Carlson is taking the reins. In turn, Dish is taking on a "group structure" that should more effectively support wireless, conventional satellite TV and Sling TV streaming.

There's a good reason why Ergen would want to pick up the pace: the FCC has a use-it-or-lose-it requirement that would force Dish to launch a service on its spectrum by 2020. He needs a concrete wireless strategy in short order, and dedicating more of his time to that strategy is bound to help.

The shuffle might come at an appropriate time. Ergen talked about there being a "few more options on the table" for partnerships now that Sprint and T-Mobile have called off merger talks. This doesn't mean that Dish will merge with a carrier, but it could start wireless service with the help of a network or license out its airwaves to a provider that wants them for 5G data. No matter what, you can expect Dish to do something -- if just to make those frequency purchases worthwhile.

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