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DISH Switches Up its Wireless Network Partner, Signs with AT&T

Last updated on July 17th, 2022 by George Levint

DISH swaps MVNO to AT&TIn mid 2020, we reported that DISH had purchased Boost Wireless and agreed to pay to use T-mobile’s wireless network thru 2027. In an effort to extend their reach as they build out their own 5G network, DISH recently signed with AT&T to use their network for four additional years, so through 2031. T-mobile shutting down their CDMA network sooner than expected (and thus forcing DISH to expedite the move of Boost customers to a different network) sort of drove this change as well. The interesting by-product is that DISH is now actively partnering with AT&T and we’ll see if that facilitates an eventual merger between of DIRECTV and DISH satellite TV services.

MVNO Deal with AT&T worth $5B

Since DISH doesn’t have their own mobile wireless network live yet (it’s still in the works, including 5G), they’re leasing use of other networks… that relationship makes DISH an MVNO: mobile virtual network operator. This latest deal with AT&T, worth about $5B, basically replaces the previous T-mobile deal (which was supposed to last about 7 years). So, although DISH likely got slightly better terms with AT&T, the biggest driver for the change was the ongoing public squabbles with T-mobile over their expiring CDMA and DISH’s 12 GHz spectrum. The deal with AT&T is set to last 10 years with AT&T also committing equipment and infrastructure to help DISH build and rollout their 5G network over the coming years.

DISH also promised to eventually let AT&T use a portion of their highly valued wireless spectra, though no details were given. That wide range of spectrum would undoubtedly help AT&T broaden and strengthen their current wireless coverage, especially as 5G continues to gain traction. So, overall, both DISH and AT&T made out quite well with T-mobile taking a hit on lost revenue and potential future partnership opportunities.

I thought AT&T and DISH weren’t the best of friends?

Based on all the rhetoric during AT&T’s partial sale of DIRECTV, that was the general understanding. However, smart business always wins out and this MVNO deal works out well for both. Of course, nothing is set in stone but don’t expect changes to the ATT/DISH MVNO partnership anytime soon. And now that they’ll be collaborating for at least the next decade, the likelihood of AT&T selling a majority share of DIRECTV to DISH just got a lot better. If/when that happens, satellite TV customers should see a nice boost in technology, channel options and more. At the very least, with AT&T already selling a minority share of DIRECTV to TPG, the once-loved brand and service is already making a strong comeback.

I’m a current Boost subscriber, will my service get cancelled?

No. Before T-mobile’s CDMA network goes offline in late 2022, DISH will be transferring all Boost customers to the new AT&T network. Whether that means new phones or another solution, you won’t lose access and will likely get a new phone and better reception after the switch. You’ll also likely get new account features and potentially better pricing with bundle options. Ting Mobile, Gen Mobile and Republic Wireless customers (all acquired by DISH) will also get transferred over in similar ways.

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