The urgency to bring reliable connectivity to less-populated areas of the United States has never been greater. Accessibility elevates emergency services, improves safety, enhances business owners’ ability to integrate advanced technology into their operations, and more. Bridging this digital divide has been challenging, especially for newcomer DISH Network. The historically satellite-driven company recently entered the wireless network space after purchasing nationwide spectrum licenses. New territory, combined with a series of deadlines instituted by the FCC following the T-Mobile/Sprint merger in 2020, adds pressure on the company to successfully build out its network by mid-2025.
By mid-June 2022, DISH was required to expand its coverage to at least 20% of the population in each of the approximately 400 Partial Economic Areas (PEAs). These regions have been identified by the FCC as service areas for 600-MHz band licenses. They are located outside of major metropolitan areas, and many have yet to gain access to affordable wireless broadband. To fulfill the licenses in the time frame set by the FCC, DISH Network developed a rollout plan and a Request for Quote (RFQ) to partner with a structural solution provider. Valmont was selected to support the rollout for a number of reasons, which included its deep knowledge in the wireless telecom space and the company’s nationwide footprint.
Valmont served as a guide for the deployment, providing insight on how DISH could co-locate on existing cellular towers to save time, conserve resources and ultimately improve lives through connectivity. As the industry-leading tower manufacturer, Valmont utilized its Telecom portfolio of solutions, including Site Pro 1® Wireless Site Components and Larson™ concealment products. The solutions ranged from monopole structures to rooftop concealment, mounting components to pole modifications, and more.
Regarding Site Pro 1® specifically, DISH chose the company due to its level of expertise and national presence, including easily accessible distribution facilities. Lastly, the sustainability of product supply from Site Pro 1® was a key element to the solution. Given the size and deadline for the build-out, DISH needed a vendor that could supply needed parts and equipment from beginning to end.
As for the role of Valmont Telecom’s Larson line of concealment products, different markets required specific solutions. For example, the Larson team provided design and engineering support in the California market to achieve different types of rooftop concealment sites as well as monopole and tree modifications, with six sites currently in progress and more expected to follow.
In Arizona, solutions include helping DISH mitigate visual pollution by providing creative Larson concealment solutions. Typically designed for one carrier, existing mono-palm wireless infrastructure poles are being outfitted to include and conceal DISH’s equipment as a second carrier using aesthetically pleasing coverage. The ability to co-locate on existing infrastructure reduces the number of new poles that would otherwise need to be deployed. It also meets jurisdictional requirements to camouflage wireless equipment. More than 110 sites in the Arizona market have or will be outfitted with Larson second-carrier mono-palm modification kits.
Ultimately, Valmont’s deep history in supporting the expansion of wireless broadband, combined with innovative thinking and collaboration, is helping partners like DISH Network bridge the digital divide to bring reliable and affordable connectivity to rural areas.