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Dish said today that it will use fiber access connectivity from Everstream, Segra, Uniti and Zayo to provide backhaul and fronthaul capability for the Dish 5G network. It is the latest of numerous Dish 5G vendor announcements, which the company has been issuing frequently in recent months.

According to Dish, the four fiber access providers collectively will provide fiber coast-to-coast to reach sites covering approximately 60 million Americans.

Dish is in the unusual position of building a nationwide 5G network from scratch with the goal of competing with three strong competitors that have decades of experience in the wireless market. While those competitors – AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon – are leveraging existing infrastructure to support 5G as they roll out the technology, Dish’s network will be all-5G, with no previous-generation underpinnings.

Dish Vendor Announcements

Dish hopes that technology advancements such as open radio access network (O-RAN) will enable it to build its network more cost-effectively. The company has promoted that idea in a string of O-RAN vendor announcements and even though today’s announcement was not related to O-RAN, Dish nevertheless noted that the fiber access vendors will provide “the coverage, speed and bandwidth needed to connect [Dish’s] forthcoming markets to the nation’s first cloud-native, Open RAN-based 5G network.”

It’s not surprising to see Dish selecting competitive suppliers such as Uniti and Zayo for fiber access connectivity, rather than purchasing connectivity from soon to be competitors AT&T or Verizon – two companies that in addition to providing mobile service are also the incumbent local service provider in large parts of the U.S.

It would seem unlikely that the four vendors noted today will be able to provide all the fiber backhaul and fronthaul coverage that Dish needs, however. In some more out-of-the-way places, Dish will likely need to rely on the incumbent local provider, and in some cases, that may be Verizon or AT&T – although Dish most likely will target major metro markets initially.

The agreements with the four fiber providers are “critical to helping Dish build our 5G network more quickly and cost-effectively than legacy deployments,” said Jeff McSchooler, Dish executive vice president of wireless network operations, in the press release.

“Today’s announcement marks an important milestone in Dish’s deployment process, adding to our strong roster of industry-leading tower, radio, software and now fiber vendors.”

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