Dish Network has a new network operator partner for its MVNO brands: AT&T. The companies have signed a Network Services Agreement (NSA) that will see Dish pay AT&T at least $5 billion over the next decade to run its 4G and 5G networks as Dish brings its own 5G network online.
The deal is effective immediately and comes at a time when relations between Dish and T-Mobile – currently a major network partner – are particularly strained. It’s a non-exclusive agreement, and Dish says some of its customers will likely continue to connect to T-Mobile’s network. The arrangement also gives AT&T the right to request access to use part of Dish’s wireless spectrum.
Dish owns Boost Mobile, Ting and Republic Wireless MVNOs, which operate on other carrier networks. Dish acquired Boost Mobile in the T-Mobile/Sprint acquisition agreement, as part of a plan to establish the company as the fourth largest mobile carrier in the US. Dish’s Ting and Republic Wireless acquisitions also gave the company access to backend infrastructure and subscribers in anticipation of launch as a full-fledged wireless carrier.
Things have not exactly gone smoothly. There’s the impending shutdown of T-Mobile CDMA — a network many Boost customers still rely on — which Dish says is happening sooner than expected (T-Mobile’s response to this matter has a strong “stop hitting yourself.” had vibes). Justice has also been lost wireless subscribers in the hundreds of thousands in recent financial quarters.
AT&T does not have a CDMA network, so this new deal is not intended to address that problem. It includes at least a two-year transition period when the agreement expires, during which AT&T must work together to help users continue their service, so Dish can hopefully avoid additional potential setbacks.