Dish Network mostly mum on T-Mobile's big day

Despite the fact that it's now officially obligated to build a nationwide 5G network, Dish Network isn't saying much. At least, not yet.

"With the close of T-Mobile and Sprint, Dish is one step closer to becoming the nation's fourth facilities-based wireless carrier," Jeff Blum, Dish's SVP of government affairs and public policy, said in a statement Wednesday. "We are committed to bringing full, standalone 5G to America, built upon a secure, Open Radio Access Network (OpenRAN) architecture, delivering unparalleled innovation that will benefit US consumers and enterprises."

Continued Blum: "Once the Consent Decree is entered, T-Mobile has 90 days to divest Boost to Dish. We are eager to welcome Boost customers, employees and dealers, and look forward to delivering lower prices and increased competition in the prepaid market."​

The "consent decree" is the agreement among T-Mobile, Sprint, Dish and the Department of Justice, which is set to go into effect after the closure of the T-Mobile/Sprint merger. The companies announced the close of the deal Wednesday.

Dish's 5G plans
In the summer of 2019, Dish Network emerged as the unlikely savior of T-Mobile's struggling merger with Sprint. At the time, T-Mobile officials were working to obtain antitrust approvals from the US Department of Justice for the transaction, but officials at the agency balked at the notion of reducing the number of nationwide wireless network operators from four to just three.

Then, in an unprecedented agreement, the DoJ acquiesced to the transaction on the condition that Dish Network agree to use its vast spectrum holdings to build a 5G network – in effect replacing Sprint as the nation's fourth nationwide wireless provider.

Importantly, Dish has promised to cover 20% of the US population with 5G by June 2022.

Dish, for its part, has been positioning itself to begin construction on the network. It hired two high-level wireless networking executives, and has been issuing requests for proposal (RFPs) to vendors for various aspects of the offering.

Silence, so far
Dish thus far isn't offering any broad insights into its 5G plans or its wireless strategy. That's noteworthy considering the company going to become the nation's second-largest MVNO in the next few months when it acquires roughly 10 million Boost customers from Sprint. It will be second only to America Movil's TracFone in terms of MVNO customers.

Dish executives have promised to be "disruptive" in the MVNO space; the company will be able to immediately enter the US wireless industry by piggybacking on T-Mobile's network.

But Dish isn't showing all its cards just yet.

Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading | @mikeddano

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