DISH Wireless is still building out its nationwide 5G network, but it’s still responsible for around 10 million wireless subscribers thanks to its mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) brands. Maintaining its subscribers across three different brands as well as building its 5G network is no easy task, but thanks to a new deal struck with AT&T, the wireless giant in the making is securing better coverage for its current subscribers to last the next decade.
According to the filing from DISH with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the decade-long agreement with AT&T “will provide current and future customers of its retail wireless brands, including Boost Mobile, Ting Mobile, and Republic Wireless, access to (best-in-class) coverage and connectivity on AT&T’s wireless network, in addition to the new DISH 5G network. The agreement accelerates DISH’s expansion of retail wireless distribution to rural markets where DISH provides satellite TV services. AT&T is also providing transport and roaming services as part of the agreement, to support DISH’s 5G network.”
Coverage is a huge issue for any wireless provider. Because DISH has never had a wireless network until now and it’s building its 5G network from scratch, there is a lack of infrastructure. Still, while the coverage AT&T is providing will help consumers outside of DISH’s coverage area, the agreement is not limited to areas outside of the pay-TV turned wireless provider’s coverage and will deliver coverage throughout the U.S.
A statement from DISH’s Chief Operating Officer, John Swieringa, stated that “Teaming with AT&T on this long-term partnership will allow us to better compete in the retail wireless market and quickly respond to changes in our customers’ evolving connectivity needs as we build our own (first-of-its-kind) 5G network.” Swieringa also mentioned that the agreement with AT&T would provide “enhanced coverage and service.” DISH Wireless commented on its future, saying that it “is committed to providing competition in the wireless market as the nation’s fourth facilities-based carrier.”
DISH Wireless continues to make important progress on its 5G network. The company broke ground in Orlando, Florida, coming after its monumental announcement to launch within the Vegas market thanks to Amazon Web Services (AWS) before the end of 2021. A mysterious website known as Project Gene5is popped up, allowing consumers to sign up for notifications as to when DISH’s network was in their area, and there are even social media posts pointing to activity in Washington D.C. But there are still obstacles to clear and opposing forces to face for DISH Wireless.
Even with the support from Public Knowledge, there are still concerns about consumers not having connectivity, as it seems T-mobile is set to shut down its CDMA network in January 2022. The network was acquired when the Un-carrier was able to merge with Sprint. Now, despite many Boost Mobile customers relying on the network for connectivity, T-Mobile appears set on shutting it down while DISH scrambles to stop the move and provide alternatives to its customer base.
DISH will have to look at its new deal with AT&T in a brighter light as we await to see if it can be a solution for Boost customers. Regardless, the agreement entered into by both parties on July 14, 2021, will provide a decade of stability for DISH’s network. Even after the agreement expires or if it were to be terminated during its lifespan, a two-year transitional period will go into effect, allowing consumers to remain connected to AT&T’s network. The agreement will see DISH Wireless paying a minimum of $5 billion to AT&T.