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Samsung signs deal with Dish for 5G radios, phones

South Korean company cements role as telecom equipment supplier in U.S.

Dish is setting up 5G network infrastructure in dozens of American cities, committed to covering 20% of the U.S. population by June.   © Reuters

(Reuters) -- Samsung has signed a multiyear deal to sell equipment to Dish for its upcoming 5G network in the United States, one of the largest radio deals for the South Korean company since its major Verizon contract in 2020.

Samsung set itself up as a challenger to top telecom equipment suppliers Nokia and Ericsson in the United States by winning a $6.6 billion deal with Verizon, and the contract with Dish further cements its position.

"This is a greater than a billion dollar agreement for Samsung Networks," Alok Shah, vice president at Samsung, told Reuters. "We will be delivering our first products to Dish later this year."

Dish already has Taiwan's Microelectronics Technology and Japan's Fujitsu as suppliers for 5G radios.

Dish is building a 5G network using the latest technology that promises to lower costs and bring in new services, and has tied up with companies ranging from Amazon and Intel to smaller ones such as Altiostar and Mavenir.

While Dish has not launched a commercial network yet, it has committed to regulators to cover 20% of the U.S. population by June, and at least 70% of the population by mid-2023.

"We have an objective to achieve 20% of population coverage by June, and we are well on track to achieve that," Dish Chief Commercial Officer Stephen Bye said in an interview.

"We have beta users on our network for some time, testing our network ... we just have not declared commercial launch, and you will see that in the coming weeks," he said.

Dish, which has been setting up network infrastructure in dozens of cities, has also faced supply chain issues that have hurt companies globally, including in the telecom industry.

Bye said supply chains had been tough for 12-18 months and the challenges were not going to go away in the next couple of months. But Dish has all the components to reach its June coverage target.

Dish is also testing its 5G network using Samsung Galaxy S22 phones and plans to continue using the phones throughout the network deployment process.

"We are working with other device vendors, and you can look at the Boost website and you will see clearly we have relationships with a lot of device vendors," Bye said.

Boost Mobile, a prepaid wireless phone brand owned by Dish, lists phones from Samsung, Motorola and Apple on its website.

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