DISH Network and Vertical Bridge today announced a long-term lease agreement granting DISH immediate access to Vertical Bridge’s extensive portfolio of towers, rooftops, utility transmission structures, billboards, convenience stores and other sites used for wireless infrastructure deployment. Overall, Vertical Bridge is the fourth largest owner of towers in the United States. Indeed, the company’s portfolio comprises 20k owned and master-leased towers towers and 300k total sites located throughout the United States.

DISH Network – Going Beyond Vertical Bridge

DISH Network’s agreement with Vertical Bridge closely follows another long-term agreement that DISH signed with Crown Castle in mid-November 2020. Specifically, DISH Network and Crown Castle signed a 15-year lease agreement through which Crown Castle will lease DISH space on up to 20k of its tower sites, across the United States.

Overall, these two agreements by DISH Network shows its intent to build a “real” 5G network, which will be powered by 50k tower cell sites. To this point, in 2020, DISH Network became a nationwide U.S. wireless carrier through the acquisition of Boost Mobile. The company is building the nation’s first cloud-native, Open RAN-based 5G wireless network.

DISH Network is building a national 5G network that requires an extensive presence across urban, suburban, and rural areas. Indeed, the tower portfolios of Vertical Bridge and Crown Castle offer DISH Network the array of coverage it needs. Specifically, DISH Network will begin deployments on towers in late 2021 but will not have meaningful tower deployments until 2022.

DISH Network and Colony Capital Partnership

The agreement between DISH Network and Vertical Bridge, marks the second Colony Capital portfolio company to help support DISH’s 5G network build-out. Indeed, in November 2020, DISH Network signed an agreement with Colony Capital portfolio company and fiber provider Zayo. Specifically, Zayo will provide fronthaul and backhaul support to connect DISH Network’s 5G network to sites covering ~60 million people in the United States.

Colony Capital’s digital infrastructure portfolio includes towers, data centers, fiber, small cells, and distributed antenna systems. Indeed, these are all assets which DISH Network needs to leverage to build-out its cloud-native, Open RAN-based 5G wireless network. Overall, Colony Capital is providing a converged solution to DISH Network. Specifically, this means being able to offer multiple types of digital infrastructure solutions to DISH.

Data Centers – DISH’s Next Digital Infrastructure Step

DISH is building a cloud-native, Open RAN-based 5G wireless network, making it possible to virtualize the core of the network. Therefore, the core of the network can be located anywhere. In turn, the ecosystem becomes more important to DISH Network than where the company’s base stations are located.

Interconnection-oriented data centers, such as those operated by DataBank, a Colony Capital portfolio company, host rich ecosystems of network, content, and cloud customers. Indeed, this means the data center takes on a new importance for DISH Network. This is because ecosystems are the most important location for DISH Network and these ecosystems are hosted within data centers.

Adam Simmons covers Towers for Dgtl Infra, including American Tower (NYSE: AMT), Crown Castle (NYSE: CCI), SBA Communications (NASDAQ: SBAC), Cellnex Telecom (BME: CLNX), Vantage Towers (ETR: VTWR), IHS Holding (NYSE: IHS), and many more. Within Towers, Adam focuses on the sub-sectors of ground-based cell towers, rooftop sites, broadcast / radio towers, and 5G. Adam has over 7 years of experience in research and writing for Towers.


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