American Tower, Netcracker, Palo Alto Networks latest vendors tapped for Dish 5G build

Dish executives are looking toward some sort of commercial 5G service this year and, in pursuit of that, continue to onboard vendors to help them become the fourth facilities-based carrier in the U.S. market. The latest round of vendor announcements include a tower leasing deal with American Tower, an agreement with Netcracker on transport, interconnect and edge data centers, and today an announcement with Palo Alto Networks covering network security.

Dish has also been building up its customer base. In March the firm said it would acquire Wi-Fi-first MVNO Republic Wireless, acquiring around 200,000 customers. That followed an August 2020 takeover of Ting Mobile assets, including its customers. Ting was owned by Tucows which Dish is working with in its 5G efforts; Tucows is providing a network platform and repositioning itself as a Mobile Services Enabler.

Dish has been been putting together the pieces for its mobile business, including purchasing T-Mobile’s 9 million Boost Mobile customers and increasing hiring efforts with the company looking to staff 2,000 employees at its Littleton, Colorado headquarters. As part the Sprint/T-Mobile merger, Dish secured 800 MHz spectrum from Sprint to add to its existing spectrum holdings, as well as access to existing network sites for build-out purposes.

With American Tower, Dish has executed a master lease agreement for space on up to 20,000 American Tower sites. Cash lease payments are slated to begin in 2022. The deal also lets Dish lease shared generators at some sites and tap American Tower services related to “zoning, permitting and other pre-construction services.”

Dish EVP of Network Development Dave Mayo said the tower deal gives Dish “the complete, robust infrastructure portfolio we need to support our nationwide 5G network deployment.”

Software specialist Netcracker Technology is working with Dish on “automating the interaction between Dish and its transport network services provides.” That includes “customer order management, customer contract management, billing management, resource management, service management and orchestration.” Netcracker’s management software will be hosted in a public cloud.

On the security side, Dish has selected Palo Alto Networks “for container security, secure network slicing, real-time threat correlation and dynamic security enforcement.”

“As part of our efforts to revolutionize wireless connectivity, it’s imperative that we integrate security into our 5G network from the ground up,” according to Marc Rouanne, Dish’s chief network officer.

Dish has committed to offering standalone 5G broadband coverage to 70% of Americans by June 2023.


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