Dish and AT&T ink wireless pact worth at least $5 billion

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Charlie Ergen’s Dish Network said Monday that it inked a multi-year “transformative” deal worth at least $5 billion with AT&T to make it the primary network services partner for its wireless customers.

Under the terms of the 10-year pact, AT&T will provide voice, data and messaging services to customers of Dish-owned Boost Mobile, Ting and Republic Wireless, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

T-Mobile had previously been Dish’s wireless partner.

Dish’s retail wireless customers in the United States will also get access to voice and data roaming services on AT&T’s network, the filing said.

The deal also “accelerates Dish’s expansion of retail wireless distribution to rural markets where Dish provides satellite TV services,” Dish said. AT&T is also providing transport and roaming services to support Dish’s 5G network.

The move is part of a race among telecom firms to ramp up their 5G infrastructure to provide faster data services and better coverage to customers. During the pandemic, demand for high-speed internet has rising as more Americans are working and learning from home.

“Teaming with AT&T on this long-term partnership will allow us to better compete in the retail wireless market and quickly respond to changes in our customers’ evolving connectivity needs as we build our own first-of-its kind 5G network,” said John Swieringa, Dish chief operating officer and group president of retail wireless.

As of its last quarterly earnings report, Dish logged nearly 9 million retail wireless subscribers while AT&T has more than 186 million mobile subscribers.

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