Dish has decided that it can’t longer rely solely on T-Mobile to support it while builds out its own 5G network. The company announced on Monday that it has entered into a multi-year Network Services Agreement (NSA) with AT&T to access its 4G and 5G networks, making it the primary network service provider for Dish and its customers.
The deal, values at $5 billion, will allow Dish customers to tap into the AT&T 5G network for as long as 10 years. That includes Boost Mobile, Ting, and Republic Wireless subscribers.
The deal comes at a difficult time for Dish, which is in the process of deploying its own 5G network to better compete with the best 5G networks in the U.S., which includes AT&T. Until now, the company has relied largely on the T-Mobile network for its customers, as part of the agreement for the Sprint merger.
Unfortunately, both T-Mobile and Dish haven’t seen eye-to-eye on many things since the merger was completed. For instance, Dish has disputed the early shutdown of T-Mobile’s 3G CDMA network, saying that it could leave its millions of customers in the lurch. T-Mobile has also argued that the FCC should strip Dish of its highly-coveted spectrum and auction it off for use in terrestrial 5G networks.
The new deal with AT&T manages to relinquish some of Dish’s reliance on T-Mobile, which is contractually obligated to support Dish for seven years as the new carrier continues to build its network. Dish has targeted the end of 2021 to switch on its 5G network, with “the nation’s first cloud-native, OpenRAN-based 5G network reaching over 70% of the population by 2023.”
Following the 10 year contract, AT&T will give Dish a two-year grace period to help ensure a smooth transition for its subscribers.