2021 FierceWireless Rising Star — Dish’s Brian Mengwasser

Dish Network's Brian Mengwasser (Dish)

For 2021, FierceWireless has compiled a young and accomplished slate of up-and-coming wireless executives. We’re doling out the names of our winners, two per day, so that readers have the time to enjoy reading their profiles. These are all folks to keep an eye on as they make a mark in wireless, working in diverse areas of telecommunications.

An entrepreneur at heart, Brian Mengwasser has worked for both big companies and startups in many different areas of the telecom business — from satellite, to data intelligence, to cloud and artificial intelligence. But when he spoke with Marc Rouanne, Dish’s EVP and chief network officer, about the company’s vision for its 5G network, Mengwasser knew he couldn’t pass up an opportunity to be involved in what Dish is doing.

“Lots of people in the industry think what we are doing is a wireless story or a 5G story. But I believe it is a cloud story,” Mengwasser said. “We are intertwining the cloud and the network in a way that hasn’t been done before.”

Mengwasser joined Dish as its VP and head of marketplace and apps design where he is responsible for building the customer-facing network functionality and cultivating the development ecosystem for the company’s 5G network. He also oversees data strategy, architecture and the application of artificial intelligence and machine learning throughout the network.

Before making the move to Dish, he was a founder and the CEO of Aurora Insight, a company that measures radio spectrum. And prior to that he worked for satellite company SES where he oversaw innovation projects.

Mengwasser said that the best part of his job is the excitement he and his colleagues feel when they realize they are developing the source code that will enable a whole slew of new applications.

But the most difficult part of his job, he said, is that there are no guidelines. “We are starting from a blank sheet,” he said. “This can be difficult because we want to move as quickly as we can and figure out what works and what doesn’t work.”

Related: Dish signs $5B MVNO deal with AT&T

Nevertheless, he recognizes that he’s in an enviable position because no one has done this type of development before. “We are in a unique position between the device and the cloud,” he said. “And we have to figure out how we make the network work and make it work in a way that is beneficial for the devices. This becomes the best sandbox.”

When Mengwasser isn’t working on Dish’s data strategy, he is a skier and a sailor. But as a recent transplant from the Bay area to Colorado, he might have better luck honing his skiing skills in the Colorado mountains than finding a sailing spot.