Dish Network

Dish Network was formed in March of 1996 under the parent company EchoStar Communications Corporation. This joint company was the first satellite TV provider to host local channels in all 50 states. As of December 2013, Dish was ranked number 189 on the Fortune 500 list, comfortably placing it in the “Fortune 200,” according to the network. Among just the fellow telecommunication organizations, Dish Network is ranked as number eight, with Dish legal terms of service stating that the service is available to people over 18. Dish Network’s main competitor, Direct TV, is number five, and topping the list is AT&T.

Currently the network has an A- rating from the Better Business Bureau, with the highest possible grade being an A+. This rating is dependent on a multitude of factors, but the main negative contributor bringing the company’s grade down was the number of complaints received. There are many Dish retailers spread all around the country and, in the past three years, Dish has received 13,154 complaints through the BBB. However, all of these complains have been closed.

Dish Network and EchoStar Corporation didn’t separate officially until 2008. One of EchoStar’s founders, Charlie Ergen, used to be president and CEO of Dish. Though he has stepped down from these roles, he is still chairman of the board for the company. Despite the two companies splitting apart, EchoStar Corporation still owns the satellites Dish Network uses to broadcast. Dish has a 750 Mhz Broadcom satellite TV processor, which was the fastest available until January 2012, according to Dish.

Gadget Review recently compared Dish Network and Direct TV in five categories: Packages, Price, Equipment, Installation and Customer Service. Overall, winner was Dish Network Deals, though it only won in two categories. Dish carried the high scores in both Price and Equipment while tying with Direct TV in Installation and Customer Service. Direct TV only won in the Packages category.

Approximately 65 percent of the company’s employees are located in the United States. There are roughly 34,000 employees (as of December 2013) with more than 25,000 located in the U.S. Though the company has such a large number of network retailers and employees, they have to service nearly 14 million subscribers. According to these numbers, each employee has to service roughly 411 customers.

Before December 2001, satellite dishes for Dish Network were made in factories in Alabama and Colorado. However, they are now made in Mexico and India. Also in 2001, Dish was accused of being homophobic by a representative of Gay Television Network (now named Q Television Network – QTN). After lengthy negotiations between Dish and QTN, during which no official decision was reached, QTN announced in a press release that they would be carried by Dish Network. Dish adamantly denied this, leading to the homophobic accusation. QTN is now available through Dish Network as an add-on with a package of other channels, costing an additional $10 per month.

In 2004, negotiations between Dish Network and CBS took a downturn, and CBS removed all of their channels (including MTV and Nickelodeon) from the company. The channels were down for two days before the two parties were able to reach an agreement and resume broadcasting.

Dish was listed first among all cable and satellite companies in 2010 for customer satisfaction by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). The current leader according to ACSI is Dish’s main competitor, Direct TV.

Upon Dish’s announcement of their Free HD for Life program, Disney pulled out all of their HD channels in June 2010, including ESPNews, Disney Channel, Disney XD and ABC Family. The standard, non-HD channels for these programs remain on the air and available through Dish Network, but their HD equivalents are still not carried by Dish.

In 2011, Dish Network acquired Blockbuster Video, buying out the company for $320 million. Over time they shut down 300 Blockbuster stores, and Dish plans on shutting down the remaining 300 locations by early January 2014. Blockbuster will no longer have any physical locations or be mailing out DVDs. The video library will only be available to Dish Network customers, for a fee. This move toward a purely digital product has closed nearly 600 stores, putting their employees out of a job, and causing the UK division of Blockbuster to declare bankruptcy in October 2013.

Dish also recently attempted to buy Sprint Nextel, bidding $25.5 billion ($5 billion more than their bidding competitor, Softbank). However, Sprint still chose to accept the lower bid of Softbank.

In the past seven years, many of Dish’s independent contractors have been accused of and prosecuted for violating the national Do Not Call List, forcing Dish to break ties with the contractors. This is not the only accusation of illegal activity linked to Dish Network. Recently Direct TV accused Dish of using false, misleading and illegal sales tactics, including pretending to be from Direct TV in order to steal customers (a majority of them senior citizens). Dish has also been confronted legally by ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX over Dish’s new Hopper (ad-jumper DVR) service, claiming that they are in violation of copyright laws by allowing consumers to record and jump over commercials. Dish Network is the only TV service with the Hopper.

In addition to their television services, Dish Network also provides Internet services: Dish Broadband. Internet through Dish is up to 200 times faster than Dial-Up service and three times faster than DSL service. Download speeds reach up to 10 Mbps with upload speeds of up to 2 Mbps.

Dish Broadband also offers up to 15 GB anytime data and up to 15 GB bonus data. Users can still take calls and talk on the phone while being online, while other systems only offer one at a time. It is compatible with both Windows and Macintosh operating systems and provides five email addresses for the family or business.

Benefits of Dish over cable

Over the past 40 years, since cable and satellite TV have become available, satellite has consistently won in terms of diversity. By its very nature, satellite has offered one simple technical advantage that, in my opinion, allowed it to start off offering a wider variety of content. The original cable boxes had a fix number of digits that were capable of displaying. This meant that once a cable company had invested in the boxes, they then needed to make a decision as to which content they would allow in their limited number.

Initially, many of the companies could not show more than 99 channels and then, later, 999.
Now, with the channels being shown on the screen, this limitation is gone. If you look through the variety of channels available to most cable customers and compare this to the options available to Dish customers, I believe you will find most extensive variety of foreign language, sports, and other niche content on the Dish channels.