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Yesterday, DISH Network Corp. (DISH - Analyst Report) announced the commercial launch of the pay-TV industry’s first set-top box using wireless connectivity.

Subscribers will now be able to connect to DISH’s flagship Hopper Whole-Home HD DVR through a dedicated 802.11ac access point and watch TV shows on any device and in and around the home through a wireless Joey device. A WiFi-enabled set-top box is a significant innovation in the pay-TV industry as it eliminates the need for either coaxial or Ethernet wiring within customer premises.

DISH subscribers have to install a wireless Joey client for $7 per month per device and a wireless Joey 802.11 ac access point for a one-time fee of $50. DISH is using Broadcom Corp.’s (BRCM - Analyst Report) BCM4360 chipset for the WiFi connectivity which operates in the 5GHz frequency band and uses 3x3 multi-input/multi-output (MIMO) technology with beam forming and auto frequency selection.

The wireless Joey will include all the trick-play features of wired Joey such as pause/rewind/fast forward, PrimeTime Anytime with automatically recorded primetime TV and AutoHop for commercial free playback of select shows.  

In early 2012, DISH introduced an innovative HD whole-home DVR called “Hooper” together with a sidekick called “Joey”. The device allows the user to watch TV shows and movies in 4 different rooms at the same time and can record 6 HD shows at once. Hooper is developed with an in-build 2-terabyte hard disk that can store 2,000 hours of sports and entertainment content.

Hopper device users can also watch their favorite programs on PlayStation 3 (PS3) and PS4 gaming consoles through a virtual Joey. Moreover, enhancement of the DISH Anywhere mobile app will further improve TV viewing facilities on tablets and smartphones.

The pay-TV industry has been focusing on developing a wireless set-top box for long. In 2011, AT&T Inc. (T - Analyst Report) introduced its first wireless set-top box. In Apr 2014, DIRECTV (DTV - Analyst Report) launched its wireless Genie mini set-top box. Both the companies are using Quantenna Communications Inc.’s chipsets.

However, DISH is the first company to start the commercial shipment of WiFi enabled Hopper devices. DISH currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

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