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Dish Network Closes Deal with Crown Castle for 20K Towers

DISH’s plans for a nationwide 5G network are already in the works as their first-ever whopping infrastructure agreement between DISH Network and Crown Castle has been inked. that will provide the former up to 20,000 communication towers. The agreement also covers particular fiber transport services along with pre-construction services (zoning, site engineering, permitting) but does not include small cell service.

This is only what we know so far as DISH Network refused to give further statements regarding budgetary nor additional terms of their agreement.

This partnership along with previous announcements they made regarding software, BSS/OSS, and 5G radios sent a clear message regarding their commitment to being the 4th major facilities-based nationwide wireless provider. They also have started with their first trial site and are looking forward to furthering constructions past trials around mid-2021.

DISH with Crown Castle

DISH Network’s Chairman Charlie Ergen was able to mention that he already had tower contracts waiting on his desk during an earnings call. Three major public tower companies, Crown Castle, American Tower, and SBA Communications already had their fair share of sparked interest on the possible impacts of Dish Network’s greenfield wireless build in the course of time.

New Street Research Analysts stated that the deal may indicate that Dish might be prioritizing Crown Castle. Positive news for Crown Castle as they can get a bigger chunk of Dish’s cell-site field. 

According to equity research analysts at Cowen, this agreement seems to ensure that Crown Castle will be responsible for a massive portion of Dish Network Internet’s expansion. They also expect a limited impact regarding financials as the network’s incline was estimated at around 2021’s second half.

They also provided a rough estimation of $1,500 per tower monthly which may provide Crown Castle $360 million annualized revenue with 20,000 towers, fiber internet, and network services excluded. With that said, they assume that the actual towers would be much less and work the number up over the years.

Crown Castle has been known for focusing on urban areas with high populations and it is likely where Dish is planning to start in order for them to achieve their coverage targets. Greg Williams, a Cowen analyst, stated that Dish might be “killing two birds with one stone” if they utilized CCI’s fiber and other network needs.

How can this deal affect other tower companies?

Analysts had different views regarding a comprehensive talk about the tower companies. For New Street Research, they see this deal positively for the overall tower sector. Given that Crown Castle has 30% of the United States tower market, this can mean that DISH may be planning to establish around 65,000 towers only if they intend to distribute their network evenly across the tower companies.

To Cowen, they see the deal a bit negatively for SBA and American Towers as they have taken into account the size of the deal and DISH’s limited needs in the following years. It was mentioned by Dish’s EVP and CCO on their Q3 earnings that they are on track to reach their target of 15,000 towers to acquire the minimum buildout coverage requirement on June 2023.

With DISH Network’s goal to have a 70% coverage, Cowen analysts deemed a slight negative to the other tower companies as DISH would only need slightly more than 15,000 sites to reach their goal.  DISH Network also made a bunch of announcements regarding their partnership with Fujitsu for radios, Mavenir and Altiostar for software, Nokia for their core network, and many more. With a capital target of $10 billion, this may be Dish’s first-ever major commitment and certainly would not be the last if all goes well.

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