Equinix today announced that it will partner with DISH Network to provide data center services in support of the wireless carrier’s forthcoming nationwide, cloud-native, Open RAN-based 5G network. In turn, DISH Network will gain access to Equinix’s interconnection capabilities and data centers across the United States.
Cloud-Native 5G Network – Equinix Partners with DISH
As part of DISH’s cloud-native 5G network build-out, the company needs access to data centers and interconnection hubs in close proximity to large population centers. At the same time, network and cloud density within these facilities is paramount. To this end, Equinix provides DISH with access to 1.8k+ networks and 2.9k+ cloud, IT, and system integrator services globally.
Given DISH’s near- and long-term point-of-presence (PoP) coverage targets for the U.S. population (see below), the company requires highly-distributed, connected infrastructure at the edge. By connecting directly into Equinix’s ecosystem of network operators, cloud service providers, and end users, DISH can more optimally bring its differentiated 5G network to cities across the United States.
Equinix’s data centers host 175+ cloud on-ramps globally, with the company having at least one major cloud on-ramp in 42 metros around the world. Therefore, Equinix’s portfolio represents an important conduit for direct interconnection to cloud service providers such as Amazon Web Services (AWS).
Importantly, in April 2021, DISH agreed to make AWS its preferred cloud service provider. At the same time, AWS, like Equinix, will be a key partner in building-out DISH’s Open RAN-based 5G network.
Overall, DISH is gaining further edge locations at which it will be able to deploy its network. DISH can access AWS-built sites or connect to cloud service providers via Equinix’s distributed portfolio of cloud-on ramps.
DISH’s Progress To-Date – 5G Open RAN Network Deployment
Through at least 2025, DISH estimates that it will spend $10bn in capital expenditures to build-out its 5G network. Presently, the company has 42 U.S. markets under construction, with a near-term target of 20% U.S. PoP coverage by June 2022.
Geographically, DISH is focusing its initial 5G network deployments in the middle of the U.S., where construction is easier and quicker. Subsequently, DISH will fill-in major population centers such as California and the Northeast U.S., at a later date. Within each market that DISH builds-out, its footprint includes both metropolitan and suburban areas.
Las Vegas – 5G Open RAN Network
Initially, DISH has chosen Las Vegas, Nevada as its first market to build a cloud-native 5G network – whereby the core network resides in the cloud. In Las Vegas, DISH has an ongoing 5G beta service for consumers, which will run through year-end 2021. By early 2022, DISH expects to launch commercial services in Las Vegas.
Enterprise 5G Services
Beyond consumers, DISH’s cloud-native 5G network is expected to have an advantage over Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T in offering enterprise 5G services. Specifically, factors such as cost-per-bit will give DISH a pricing/profitability advantage over its peers, to deliver use cases such as private 5G networks. Additionally, DISH’s partners, Equinix and AWS, will help facilitate the company in bringing enterprise 5G services to the market.
DISH’s Digital Infrastructure Spend – Q3 2021
As of Q3 2021, DISH’s wireless construction in progress stood at $821m. While during Q3 2021, the company’s 5G network deployment capital expenditures were $281m.
Additionally, DISH’s right-of-use assets obtained in exchange for lease obligations (i.e., communication tower leases) amounted to $799m at quarter-end. Furthermore, these leases have a weighted-average remaining lease term of 12.6 years, involving total lease payments of $1.21bn, primarily post-2025.
DISH Network’s Infrastructure Partners
On tower infrastructure, DISH has partnered with American Tower, Crown Castle, SBA Communications, Vertical Bridge, U.S. Cellular, and smaller operators. While on fiber infrastructure, DISH has signed agreements with Zayo Group, Uniti Group, Segra, and Everstream.