Nextlink Internet, a primarily wireless internet provider based in Texas has been busy lining up key partnerships to grow its business. Founded in 2012, the company first came to Telecompetitor’s attention in 2018, when it was the biggest winner in the Connect America Fund CAF II auction. Nextlink’s latest partnership, announced today, is that it has joined the DISH Alliance Group – and there have been other achievements in between.

The Nextlink DISH Deal
Established in 2018, the DISH Alliance Group is a business unit within the satellite video provider that offers marketing services for broadband providers. Those broadband providers that are part of the alliance offer DISH video services to their customers, and DISH helps market the providers’ broadband services using DISH call centers and other co-marketing methods.

Using DISH for video makes sense for Nextlink, as it enables Nextlink to offer a bundle of services while also leaving the entire fixed wireless pipe available for broadband and voice.

The Nextlink deal would appear to be a good one for DISH, as well, as it makes DISH services available to Nextlink’s existing customer base of about 36,000, with potential future access to considerably more customers as Nextlink proceeds with its CAF II commitment to make broadband available to 100,000 locations in six states.

Nextlink on a Partnership Roll
Nextlink won a total of $281 million in the CAF II auction. The company plans to deploy service supporting speeds of at least 100 Mbps to most CAF II locations using fixed wireless.

Perhaps it was the big CAF II win that attracted Microsoft to the company. In September 2019, Microsoft named Nextlink a partner in the Airband program that aims to bring broadband to unserved rural areas throughout a large part of the U.S., primarily using fixed wireless technology. Plans with Nextlink include hundreds of rural communities in six states.

All this activity didn’t prevent Nextlink, less than a month after the Microsoft deal was announced, from purchasing the internet service business of Connecting Point (ConPoint), a company based in Norfolk, Nebraska that provided internet service, network management, workstation management and other services in the state.

Moving forward, one can’t help wondering if there might not be some additional synergies in the Nextlink DISH deal beyond co-marketing. DISH has a national installation workforce and perhaps Nextlink will be able to use that workforce to also install fixed wireless equipment, at least in some areas.

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