Dish, American Tower ink lease agreement for up to 20,000 sites

American Tower and Dish Network Corporation have signed a master lease agreement through which the latter company may lease space on up to 20,000 American Tower communications sites.

Through the deal, Dish will secure access to American Tower’s U.S. portfolio of communications sites as it deploys its new nationwide 5G network. This is the most recent of a number of similar tower deals for Dish.

“With the American Tower agreement, Dish now has the complete, robust infrastructure portfolio we need to support our nationwide 5G network deployment,” said Dave Mayo, Dish’s EVP of network development. “Our team has already developed colocation plans for American Tower sites across the country to bring a new generation of connectivity to Americans.”

“We look forward to this agreement evolving into a long-term, mutually beneficial strategic partnership. We believe that our nationwide portfolio of communications sites is optimally positioned to continue to serve as the backbone of today’s critical mobile broadband networks while assuring a meaningful share of new leasing activity in the marketplace,” said Steve Vondran, American Tower’s EVP and president of the company’s U.S. tower division.

Under the terms of the agreement, cash lease payments from Dish to American Tower will start in 2022 and grow over time as Dish’s network deployment progresses. In addition, the operator may lease shared generators from American Tower on select sites and will have the ability to utilize American Tower’s zoning, permitting and other pre-construction services.

Last month, Dish, which is in the process of constructing a cloud-native, Open RAN-based 5G wireless network, secured new tower agreements with Harmoni Towers, Mobilite, Parallel Infrastructure, Phoenix Tower International (PTI), Tillman Infrastructure, Tower Ventures and Vogue Towers.

These agreements will provide Dish access to more than 4,000 towers and wireless infrastructure assets across the country. The vendors will also provide a variety of services to help accelerate the installation of 5G radios on the newly-acquired infrastructure.

In November, Dish had inked an agreement with Crown Castle to lease space on up to 20,000 communications towers across the U.S. The deal also covered fiber backhaul and the option of using Crown Castle for pre-construction services.

Dish has a seven-year wholesale agreement under which its customers have access to T-Mobile US’ network, and Dish has until mid-2023 to meet build-out requirements for its AWS and 700 MHz spectrum.

Dish had previously announced its intention to provide standalone 5G broadband coverage to 70% of Americans by June 2023.

The FCC is requiring Dish to build out “5G Broadband Service,” which it defines as 5G New Radio, as laid out in 3GPP Release 15 or later, that is capable of providing Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB) functionality.

Dish had planned to build a narrowband IoT network to fulfill its FCC build-out requirements, but the new rules on its licenses mean that it must offer 5G NR service instead — and specifically say that each of its licenses are now “expressly conditioned on Dish building, deploying, and offering 5G Broadband Service.”

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