Connect(X) 2021 Coverage
The heads of major tower companies said the nationwide buildout of DISH Wireless is providing a “flood of work” and gave Dave Mayo, Executive VP, Network Development, a vote of confidence during The View From the Top session yesterday at the Connectivity Expo in Orlando. “They have come out of the gates very quickly. They organized a team. I understand it’s well over 1,000 folks strong now,” said Jeff Stoops, President and CEO, SBA Communications. “They’re busy, They are prepared. They are organized. They are real, and the network build is happening. Dave has put together a very good machine there and it’s working.”
DISH has a build program that is set to run for four years. By June 2022, DISH Wireless must cover 20 percent of the nation’s POPs, and 70 percent of the population by June 2023, which is considered nationwide coverage. It has another deadline pushes cover out to 75 percent of the population in each economic area by June 2025 for even more coverage.
Steve Vondran, Executive VP and President, U.S. Tower Division, American Tower, said it is “very exciting” because of the level of capital that DISH Wireless is investing in its network. “We are going as fast as we can for Dave,” Vondran said. “I think we will be busy for years to come.”
Alex Gellman, CEO, Vertical Bridge, marveled at the progress DISH has made since the beginning of 2021, before all the tower companies signed master lease agreements with DISH Wireless. “I’m very interested to watch their transition from lease up to deployment,” Gellman said. “They have a big job in front of them. They have to get their equipment up on the towers to deploy the network. They also have very clear mandates around coverage that stretch out to 2025, and they are focused on that.”
DISH Wireless’ buildout means more co-locations on existing assets for the tower industry, which drives its economic model, Gellman added.
Together with the other carriers transitioning to 5G, the DISH Wireless buildout activity has tower companies at elevated levels of activity, according to Vondran.
5G is very early in the deployment cycle and the buildout could last the next 10 years, according to Jay Brown, President and CEO, Crown Castle International.
Brown said 5G is really a “platform for future innovation” and the applications that will be run on that platform are not really known yet. “The carriers will focus at least initially on touching sites that they’re already on and then we’ll see amendments on those sites and then at some point we get to densification,” Brown said. “I think we’re at the very, very early stages of that and so we’ll get some 5G builds, and I think the applications will come as that platform is used and all of the spectrum being deployed for that will eventually be used.”
By J. Sharpe Smith Inside Towers Technology Editor