Dish does another 5G towers deal

Dish Network is in double figures, in that it has just inked its tenth towers deal of the year so far, this time brokering a master lease agreement with American Tower.

Mary Lennighan

March 16, 2021

3 Min Read
Dish does another 5G towers deal

Dish Network is in double figures, in that it has just inked its tenth towers deal of the year so far, this time brokering a master lease agreement with American Tower.

The new deal will give Dish access to up to 20,000 American Tower sites across the US and, like the agreements that went before, will be a key component in the build-out of the operator’s new 5G network.

“With the American Tower agreement, Dish now has the complete, robust infrastructure portfolio we need to support our nationwide 5G network deployment,” said Dave Mayo, Executive Vice President of Network Development of Dish, in a statement.

Having sat on a growing pile of mobile spectrum for more than a decade, Dish’s plans to break into the US wireless market finally kicked into life last year when the firm acquired the Boost Mobile assets divested by Sprint as part of its merger with T-Mobile. The move effectively positioned Dish as the fourth mobile network in the US – although it has little in the way of network thus far – and the firm has since made a couple more smaller acquisitions to build up its mobile business, most recently picking up mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) Republic Wireless and its 200,000 customers.

Dish is now turning its attention to the network in earnest. It signed up a number of vendor partners for its cloud-native, Open RAN-based 5G infrastructure last year, and 2021 is shaping up to be the year in which it secures the locations it needs to build out that network.

It will start making cash lease payments to American Tower next year and these will grow over time as the network deployment progresses, the towers specialist revealed. The deal will also give Dish the option of leasing shared generators from American Tower on certain sites and will enable it to use the firm’s zoning, permitting and other pre-construction services.

The deal comes just three weeks after Dish announced a similar agreement with SBA Communications to gain access to an unspecified number of sites as well as related services.

And just a week before that, in mid-February, Dish shared details of seven new passive infrastructure deals to support its 5G rollout. It has signed separate contracts with Harmoni Towers, Mobilite, Parallel Infrastructure, Phoenix Tower International (PTI), Tillman Infrastructure, Tower Ventures and Vogue Towers, that together give it access to 4,000 towers and other wireless infrastructure assets, as well as services to help accelerate the deployment of 5G radios on the assets.

Finally, the start of February brought Dish’s first towers deal of the year, although not its first overall, when it announced a long-term infrastructure lease agreement with Vertical Bridge, which claims to be the largest private owner and operator of communications infrastructure in the US thanks to its 300,000-plus sites in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

There is a huge amount of landmass in the US, but it’s starting to look as though Dish has got it covered, at least from a passive infrastructure point of view. Now it needs to get cracking with the rollout of active equipment at the sites it can now access.

About the Author(s)

Mary Lennighan

Mary has been following developments in the telecoms industry for more than 20 years. She is currently a freelance journalist, having stepped down as editor of Total Telecom in late 2017; her career history also includes three years at CIT Publications (now part of Telegeography) and a stint at Reuters. Mary's key area of focus is on the business of telecoms, looking at operator strategy and financial performance, as well as regulatory developments, spectrum allocation and the like. She holds a Bachelor's degree in modern languages and an MA in Italian language and literature.

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