DISH Network is moving forward with its 5G network rollout. Since 2020, the company has announced a series of deals with public and private tower companies. An important aspect to building an individual wireless network is access to infrastructure, more particularly, towers and fiber.
DISH recently signed a tower deal with SBA Communications gaining access to its 16,000 U.S. towers, and they also recently struck a deal with Crown Castle, leasing space on about 20,000 of their towers throughout the U.S. Within the past few weeks, DISH inked a deal with Vertical Bridge, adding another 6,000 towers. On top of that, DISH now has access to Vertical Bridge’s entire portfolio, which consists of 300,000 U.S. sites – towers, rooftop sites, utility structures, billboards, etc.
The total count gives DISH rights to around 45,000-50,000 towers in the U.S., close to matching AT&T’s and Verizon’s individual networks.
In addition, DISH also signed agreements with four fiber vendors to provide fiber transport and dark fiber to connect its 5G network to sites covering nearly 60 million Americans, gaining access to fiber nationwide.
DISH is actively developing the first cloud-native Open RAN 5G network in the United States. In December 2020, they combined and confirmed end-to-end 5G connections using the industry’s first Open RAN-compliant radio. Both MTI and Fujitsu will provide DISH with O-RAN radio units (RUs) to support its nationwide network implementation.
DISH’s capital overhead was less than $500 million in 2020, and it anticipates much higher expenses once the network deployment begins in the 3rd quarter of 2021. DISH currently has a $10 billion budget for its 5G network deployment.
DISH plans to activate its immense spectrum holdings to cover 20 percent of the U.S. population by June 2022. They are hoping to cover 70 percent of the population by June 2023.