Dish Networks is moving forward with requests for proposal (RFPs) for its standalone 5G broadband network, despite the fact that it’s contingent on the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint, and that merger is not a definite thing, yet.
If the T-Mobile/Sprint deal goes through, Dish has committed to build a standalone 5G broadband network available to at least 70% of the U.S. population by June 2023. That’s a tight timeline for such a wireless network.
Today, Dish announced it will release an RFP for end-to-end deployment services vendors. The satellite TV company said this will be its third RFP in a series for different elements of its planned nationwide 5G network. The Deployment Services RFP will be released the week of October 28. It will include requests for pre-construction services including site acquisition, architecture and engineering and utility coordination. And it will also include construction services such as civil engineering, electrical engineering, network element installation and tower climbing.
In late July after the U.S. Justice Department announced its approval of the T-Mobile/Sprint merger with the condition that the companies sell and lease certain assets to Dish, the Denver-based satellite company almost immediately issued its first RFP to vendors.
Tom Cullen, Dish EVP for corporate development, said the RFP was also an RFI - a request for information. "Some things we'll be procuring in the immediate term, others we are getting ideas how to optimize," he told FierceWireless in August.
Today, Jeff McSchooler, Dish executive VP of wireless operations, stated, “We’re building a first-of-its kind standalone 5G network and want to employ a diversity of expertise from partners large and small. We’ll build upon the existing relationships we have with deployment vendors from our NB-IoT buildout, while seeking local, regional and national vendors that can apply their strengths to increase the speed and efficiency of our 5G network deployment.”
The Deployment Services RFP is the third such document Dish has issued since the announcement in July. Dish issued the above-mentioned 5G Network RFI/RFP, seeking input from vendors for the network elements. And in September, Dish issued a System RFP, seeking responses from vendors to provide a software solution for project management, workflows and reporting that aid in deploying the nationwide network.
Dish says it’s got recent experience with RFPs because it’s entered into numerous master services agreements with national deployment vendors as it works on the buildout of a narrowband-IoT network, which it announced in 2018.
While Dish has this NB-IoT network and a greenfield 5G network in play, it’s not a sure bet that the T-Mobile/Sprint merger will come to pass. The deal has gotten the greenlight from both the FCC and the DoJ. But it still faces scrutiny in court as more than a dozen states, led by New York and California, have sued to block it. That trial is set to start in December.