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An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Dish Network has agreed to pay AT&T at least $5 billion over 10 years for network access amid a feud between Dish and T-Mobile. Dish is in the early stages of building a 5G network and in the meantime is serving customers as a reseller using network capacity that it purchases from T-Mobile. But Dish and T-Mobile are fighting over T-Mobile’s plan to shut down its 3G CDMA network earlier than it originally intended, with Dish accusing T-Mobile of anticompetitive behavior. Against that backdrop, Dish today announced “the signing of a transformative, long-term strategic Network Services Agreement with AT&T, making AT&T the primary network services partner for Dish MVNO [mobile virtual network operator] customers.”
The AT&T network capacity will serve customers on Dish’s “retail wireless brands, including Boost Mobile, Ting Mobile, and Republic Wireless,” Dish said. Dish also said the agreement will accelerate its “expansion of retail wireless distribution to rural markets where Dish provides satellite TV services” and that AT&T will provide transport and roaming services to support Dish’s future 5G network. Dish revealed the $5 billion price in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing that also notes that the roaming and transport services from AT&T will not be limited to areas where Dish doesn’t build 5G infrastructure. The deal “provides Dish’s retail wireless customers with voice and data roaming services throughout the US on the AT&T network and access to AT&T’s network, even within the markets where Dish is deploying its own 5G network,” Dish told the SEC. Today’s deal between AT&T and Dish is nonexclusive, so Dish can use both T-Mobile and AT&T capacity to serve customers. But Dish’s statement that AT&T will become the “primary” network provider for Dish MVNO customers shows that Dish is trying to minimize the use of T-Mobile’s network. Dish’s MVNO deal with T-Mobile lasts until 2027. As part of the T-Mobile/Sprint merger-and-divestment proceedings, Dish committed to the government that it would build a 5G network serving 70 percent of Americans by June 2023.