Today, AT&T and Dish announced that they are entering into a Network Services Agreement (NSA).1 Here’s the key bit from Dish’s press release:
SEC Filing Insights
An SEC filing provides more insights than Dish’s press release. The deal between AT&T and Dish involves a minimum payment of five billion dollars over ten years.
People are already suggesting that Dish got a bargain by striking this deal for only five billion. They may be misunderstanding the arrangement. I expect the amount Dish pays to AT&T will depend on how heavily Dish relies on AT&T’s network. While five billion dollars is a minimum Dish, I think it’s likely Dish will end up paying more.2
Dish has committed to activating a certain portion of its subscribers on AT&T’s network, but the SEC filing suggests Dish is permitted to activate some subscribers on other networks:
It looks like most of AT&T’s roaming agreements may be extended to Dish (emphasis mine):
The SEC filing briefly touches on prioritization:
Dish has extensive spectrum holdings that AT&T may take advantage of:
The filing makes it clear that access to AT&T’s network is available for both existing and future brands under Dish (emphasis mine):
My hunch is that this deal is good news for both AT&T and Dish. For a while, I’ve heard people express skepticism about whether Dish actually intends to build its own network. I’m finding the skepticism less plausible as time goes on. With the backing of AT&T, Dish can focus on building out a 5G network in dense areas while offloading to AT&T for more extensive coverage.
The new agreement is probably bad news for T-Mobile. The company’s stock closed today a bit over 3% down from its opening price.4
- Dish previously had an agreement allowing its customers to access T-Mobile’s network. That agreement was formed when Dish bought Boost Mobile from Sprint. Both the agreement and the sale of Boost were intended to appease regulators overseeing a merger between T-Mobile and Sprint.
I think the agreement between T-Mobile and Dish was set to last for about six more years. I’m not sure exactly how today’s deal alters previous arrangements between Dish and T-Mobile.
- The agreement stipulates some conditions under which early termination is possible. If the agreement is terminated early, I don’t think the minimum payment of five billion dollars will be required.
- Not a lot of details about pricing arrangements are disclosed in the filing, so it’s unclear to me how cost-prohibitive roaming may or may not be for Dish.
- The wider U.S. market, as well as stocks for AT&T, Dish, and Verizon ended down about 1%-2%.
3 thoughts to “Dish And AT&T Announce Network Services Agreement”
Dish wanted Tmobile to delay shutting down Sprint’s CDMA network so Dish wouldn’t need to replace Boost customers’ phones. Is Dish planning on buying Boost customers phones compatible with ATT data bands? I doubt it. I expect Dish is hoping most Boost customers won’t realize their phones only support some of ATT’s data bands.
I’m not sure how everything will shake out. I’m guessing Dish will offer services over more than one network for at least a few, maybe several, years. Dish could eventually subsidize basic, modern phones for some customers.
AT&T has a very restrictive VoLTE list unlike T-Mobile who pretty much allows any VoLTE phone on their network so I suspect even more people will have to replace their phones than they would have with the switch to Sprint.
I sure hope that Dish thought about that before signing.