Dish switches network to AT&T after calling T-Mobile anticompetitive

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Dish Network

Dish Network agreed to pay AT&T at least $ 5 billion over 10 years for network access amid a dispute between Dish and T-Mobile.

Dish is in the early stages of building a 5G network, and in the meantime serving customers as a reseller using network capacity that it buys from T-Mobile. But Dish and T-Mobile are fighting over T-Mobile’s plan to shut down its 3G CDMA network earlier than originally planned, with Dish accusing T-Mobile of anti-competitive behavior.

With that backdrop, Dish today Announced “The signing of a long-term, 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 AT&T network capacity will serve customers of Dish’s “wireless service retail brands, including Boost Mobile, Ting Mobile and Republic Wireless,” Dish said. Dish also said the deal will accelerate its “expansion of retail wireless distribution to rural markets where Dish offers satellite TV services” and that AT&T will provide transportation and roaming services to support Dish’s future 5G network.

Dish Revealed the $ 5 Billion Price on a Securities and Exchange Commission presentation which also notes that AT & T’s roaming and transportation services will not be limited to areas where Dish does not build 5G infrastructure. The agreement “provides Dish’s wireless retail customers with voice and data roaming services throughout the United States on the AT&T network and access to the AT&T network, including within markets where Dish is deploying its own 5G network.” Dish told the SEC.

Today’s agreement between AT&T and Dish is not exclusive, so Dish can use the capacity of T-Mobile and AT&T 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 use of T-Mobile’s network. Dish’s MVNO deal with T-Mobile lasts until 2027.

T-Mobile partnership goes south

The T-Mobile / Dish partnership grew out of T-Mobile’s purchase of Sprint. When the Trump administration’s Justice Department allowed that merger, it required T-Mobile to sell Dish, the Boost Mobile prepaid business previously owned by Sprint, as well as spectrum licenses and wholesale access to the combined T-Mobile / Sprint network. . The deal was supposed to help Dish become the fourth major carrier to replace competition lost when the T-Mobile / Sprint merger reduced the number of domestic carriers from four to three.

Since then, Dish has accused T-Mobile of anti-competitive behavior in multiple filings with the Federal Communications Commission. Dish complained to the FCC in April, that “T-Mobile announced its intention to shut down the Sprint CDMA network, home to millions of Boost subscribers, on January 1, 2022. This is significantly ahead of the three-year migration schedule it previously announced.”

Dish says T-Mobile should have to maintain the 3G CDMA network until at least July 2023, which is three years after Dish’s purchase of Boost. Dish said T-Mobile established the three-year timeline at 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 former Sprint customers during the 3-year migration period” and that it will be able to “support Sprint customers who rely on LTE and CDMA technologies and guide customers with incompatible phones through the migration process. “

T-Mobile says Dish has “selected statements”

T-Mobile said it did not commit to a three-year term, tell the FCC that “the statements that Dish cites were simply acknowledging that T-Mobile has up to three years to completely end the legacy Sprint CDMA network … It is absurd for Dish to suggest that these three selected statements formed the basis of its business plan and it should be considered that it overrides the clear and unambiguous contractual language contained in the MNSA [the Master Network Services Agreement between T-Mobile and Dish]. “

T-Mobile further argued that “all CDMA customers, including Dish Boost brand customers, will receive tremendous benefits from migrating to T-Mobile’s new network as planned, and it is absolutely in their best interest to do so. our agreement, It is unequivocally the financial responsibility of Dish to migrate customers to the new technology in a timely manner, and if they meet those obligations, no consumer will be adversely affected by the drop and, in fact, receive substantial benefits. “

Then Dish called T-Mobile’s response. an “unconvincing attempt to justify its blatantly anti-competitive decision to prematurely shut down the legacy Sprint CDMA network” and said it is “indisputable” that “accelerated closure of the CDMA network will likely harm millions of Boost consumers, many of which are already facing economic challenges. “

“Dish is not asking T-Mobile to do anything except honor the commitments it made to regulators under oath and keep the CDMA network operational until at least July 2023,” Dish told the FCC. “While T-Mobile had no problem making these statements to reassure regulators that its acquisition of Sprint would not cause consumer harm, T-Mobile is now hiding behind narrow contract provisions in its attempt to perpetrate the exact damages. you promised. no cause. “

Dish and T-Mobile have one more fight underway

T-Mobile and Dish also disagree about sharing the 12 GHz spectrum band, as T-Mobile urged the FCC to avoid transferring land mobile telephony rights to companies with MVDDS [Multichannel Video and Data Distribution Service] Satellite TV licenses, which includes Dish. T-Mobile said that would amount to “an undeserved windfall.” Dish wants use spectrum band for 5G.

As part of the T-Mobile / Sprint merger and divestiture procedures, Dish has committed to the government to build a 5G network serving 70 percent of Americans by June 2023.

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