Dish Network has agreed to pay AT&T at least $ 5 billion over 10 years for network access in a feud between Dish and T-Mobile.
Dish is in the early stages of building a 5G network and, in the meantime, serves customers as a reseller using the capacity of the network it purchases from T-Mobile. But Dish and T-Mobile are arguing over T-Mobile’s plan to shut down its CDMA 3G network earlier than expected, with Dish accusing T-Mobile of anti-competitive behavior.
In this context, Dish today announced “the signing of a long-term and transformative strategic network services agreement with AT&T, making AT&T the primary network services partner for Dish MVNO. [mobile virtual network operator] customers.”
The capacity of the AT&T network will serve customers of Dish’s “retail wireless brands, including Boost Mobile, Ting Mobile and Republic Wireless,” Dish said. Dish also said the deal would accelerate its “expansion of retail wireless distribution to rural markets where Dish provides satellite television services” and that AT&T will provide transport and roaming services to support Dish’s future 5G network.
Dish revealed the $ 5 billion price tag in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing which also notes that AT & T’s roaming and transport services will not be limited to areas where Dish is not building 5G infrastructure. The agreement “provides Dish’s wireless retail customers with voice and data roaming services across the United States on the AT&T network and access to the AT&T network, even in markets where Dish operates its own network. 5G, ”Dish told the SEC.
Today’s agreement between AT&T and Dish is non-exclusive, so Dish can use both T-Mobile and AT&T capacity to serve customers. But Dish’s statement that AT&T will become the “primary” network provider for Dish’s MVNO customers shows that Dish is trying to minimize T-Mobile’s network usage. Dish’s MVNO deal with T-Mobile lasts until 2027.
Partnership with T-Mobile goes south
The T-Mobile / Dish partnership grew out of T-Mobile’s purchase of Sprint. When the Trump administration’s Justice Department cleared the merger, it asked T-Mobile to sell Dish’s Boost Mobile prepaid business that previously belonged to Sprint, along with spectrum licenses and wholesale access to the business. combined T-Mobile / Sprint network. The deal was supposed to help Dish become the fourth major operator to replace competition lost when the T-Mobile / Sprint merger reduced the number of domestic operators from four to three.
Dish has since accused T-Mobile of anti-competitive behavior in several cases filed with the Federal Communications Commission. Dish complained to the FCC in April that “T-Mobile announced plans to deactivate the Sprint CDMA network, which is home to millions of Boost subscribers, on January 1, 2022. This is much earlier than the schedule. three-year migration he had before. ad.”
Dish says T-Mobile is expected to maintain the 3G CDMA network until at least July 2023, three years after Dish’s purchase of Boost. Dish said T-Mobile indicated the three-year timeline in a July 2019 SEC filing and in statements to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). For example, T-Mobile told CPUC that it would “support legacy Sprint customers during the 3-year migration period” and that it would be able to “support technology-dependent Sprint customers. LTE and CDMA and guide customers with incompatible handsets. through the migration process. ”
T-Mobile says Dish ‘handpicked statements’
T-Mobile said it did not commit to a three-year deadline, telling the FCC that “the statements cited by Dish simply acknowledged that T-Mobile had up to three years to terminate the former Sprint CDMA network… It is absurd for Dish to suggest that these three handpicked statements formed the basis of its business plan and should be seen as supplanting the clear and unambiguous contractual language contained in the MNSA [the Master Network Services Agreement between T-Mobile and Dish]. ”
T-Mobile added that “all CDMA customers, including Dish’s Boost brand customers, will enjoy enormous benefits by migrating to T-Mobile’s new network as planned, and it is absolutely in their best interests to do so. Under our agreement, it is Dish’s unambiguous financial responsibility to migrate customers to the new technology in a timely manner, and if they meet these obligations, no consumer will be adversely affected by the sunset and will not will in fact benefit from substantial advantages. ”
Dish then called T-Mobile’s response an “unconvincing attempt to justify its blatantly anti-competitive decision to prematurely shut down the old CDMA Sprint network” and said it was “indisputable” that “the expedited shutdown of the CDMA network will likely hurt millions of people Boost consumers, many of whom are already facing economic challenges. ”
“Dish is not asking T-Mobile to do anything other than honor its sworn commitments to regulators and keep the CDMA network operational until at least July 2023,” Dish told the FCC. “While T-Mobile has had no problem making these statements to reassure regulators that its acquisition of Sprint would not cause harm to consumers, T-Mobile is now hiding behind tight contract terms in its attempt to do the exact harm he promised he would do. not cause. ”
Dish and T-Mobile have another fight going on
T-Mobile and Dish also disagree over sharing the 12 GHz frequency band, as T-Mobile urged the FCC to avoid giving land mobile rights to companies with MVDDS. [Multichannel Video and Data Distribution Service] satellite television licenses, which includes Dish. T-Mobile said this would amount to “an undeserved windfall.” Dish wants to use the spectral band for 5G.
As part of the T-Mobile / Sprint merger and divestiture process, Dish has made a commitment to the government to build a 5G network serving 70% of Americans by June 2023.