Dish loans spectrum to AT&T to tackle COVID-19
AT&T is the latest of the American operators to benefit from Dish’s magnanimity, as the satellite operator is loaning out its unnused spectrum free of charge to help alleviate the strain of the coronavirus outbreak.
For 60 days, Dish will provide AT&T with 20 MHz of its Band 66 spectrum and 6 MHz of Band 29 spectrum free of charge, helping to sustain AT&T’s LTE services during this time of crisis.
“[Dish is] proud to join forces with AT&T to achieve a common, critical goal: supporting the connectivity needs of Americans during this challenging time,” said Jeff Blum, Dish Network SVP of public policy and government affairs.
Following Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approval, Dish has already given Verizon a similar chunk of Band 66 spectrum, while T-Mobile has received a chunk of low-band Band 71 spectrum, as befits the needs of its networks.
Currently, none of the US’ major carriers have experienced network outages as a result of increased traffic, but the additional spectrum will be a welcome relief nonetheless.
To a certain extent, this generous act shines a light on an element of the US’ spectrum woes, with companies like Dish and Comcast buying up spectrum at auction which they seemingly have no intention of using; Dish has been promising the launch of a Mobile Network for years as it hoards a supply of precious spectrum.
While Dish’s motivation for loaning this spectrum is surely altruistic in nature, it could see some benefit down the line, with the potential for this lending period to turn into contracted leases. Estimates suggest that the spectrum Dish has out on loan to these three companies could be worth almost $1 billion annually, and it likely has around $600 million’s worth more which it has not yet loaned.
However, Dish will have to tread carefully though, since its role in the T-Mobile–Spring merger now going already has it committed to a variety of spectrum loans and sales. And, of course, it will be required to launch its own much anticipated mobile network.
For the next two months however, the US’ major carriers can enjoy the additional spectrum guilt free and use it to ensure that the nation stays well connected during the biggest pandemic in living memory.
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