A new DISH AT&T wireless deal has the two companies partnering for MVNO services and 5G. A Network Services Agreement (NSA) with AT&T will make AT&T the primary network services partner for DISH MVNO customers and will support DISH’s upcoming OpenRAN-based 5G network.
DISH operates several retail wireless brands including Boost Mobile, Ting Mobile and Republic Wireless, most of which came from T-Mobile/Sprint as a part of the T-Mobile Sprint merger closing conditions.
The Dish AT&T deal is valued at $5 billion and will enable wireless coverage for these DISH retail brands. AT&T will gain access to some DISH spectrum in various markets to help support DISH customers on AT&T’s network.
“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,” said John Swieringa, DISH COO and Group President of Retail Wireless in a prepared statement about the DISH AT&T MVNO deal. “The agreement provides enhanced coverage and service for our Boost, Ting and Republic customers, giving them access to the best connectivity on the market today via voice, messaging, data and nationwide roaming on AT&T’s vast network, as well as DISH’s 5G network.”
The original $1.4 billion DISH Boost deal with T-Mobile included access to T-Mobile’s network for Boost subscribers for at least seven years. That deal was signed in 2020. But since then, DISH and T-Mobile have sparred over network access, with T-Mobile announcing plans to retire its CDMA network in 2022, which could impact DISH wireless subscribers.
It’s not entirely clear if this new DISH AT&T deal will impact the T-Mobile CDMA issue for DISH subscribers, especially given AT&T does not operate a CDMA-based network. A DISH spokesperson did confirm with Telecompetitor that this AT&T deal isn’t specifically addressing the CDMA handset issue and DISH should have more details about this issue during its 2Q 2021 earnings call.
The spokesperson also confirmed that the existing T-Mobile agreement is still in place for now.
According to a DISH press release about the DISH AT&T deal, DISH will be able accelerate its retail distribution for wireless products, including into rural markets, where DISH provides satellite TV service, opening up bundling opportunities.
The two new partners also will collaborate on 5G as well. AT&T will provide transport and roaming services to support DISH’s 5G network. Details regarding 5G roaming are very light at this point. DISH is committed to build the first of its kind OpenRAN-based 5G network, reaching over 70% of the population by 2023.
This post has been updated with more information from DISH.