Dish cuts a 10-year, $5 billion deal to make AT&T the primary service provider for its MVNO

Dish Network has AT&T, a new network operator partner under the MVNO brand. The two companies have signed a Network Services Agreement (NSA) that will pay AT&T at least $5 billion over the next decade for Dish to use 4G and 5G networks as Dish brings its own 5G networks online.

The deal takes effect immediately and comes at a time of particularly strained relationship between Dish and T-Mobile, its major network partners. This is a non-exclusive agreement, and Dish said some customers will continue to connect to T-Mobile’s network. This agreement also grants AT&T the right to request access to use some of Dish’s wireless spectrum.

Dish owns Boost Mobile, Ting, and Republic Wireless MVNOs that operate on different carrier networks. Dish acquired Boost Mobile in a T-Mobile/Sprint acquisition deal, part of a plan to establish the company as the fourth wireless operator in the United States. Dish’s acquisitions of Ting and Republic Wireless also provided the company with access to its backend infrastructure and subscribers in anticipation of its launch as a full-fledged mobile carrier.

Things didn’t go smoothly. T-Mobile CDMA shutdown, the network many Boost customers still depend on, is imminent. Dish said it’s happening sooner than expected (T-Mobile’s response to this issue has a strong “Stop beating yourself up” vibe). Dish also lost hundreds of thousands of wireless subscribers during its recent financial quarter.

AT&T does not operate a CDMA network, so this new deal is not intended to solve that problem. At the very least, we hope that Dish avoids further potential setbacks, as it includes a two-year transition period ending the contract that AT&T will have to work with to allow users to continue their service.


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