Predictably, T-Mobile’s merger promises weren’t enough to make a carrier out of Dish

Regulators rely heavily on T-Mobile to do the right thing

When T-Mobile acquired Sprint in April of 2020, it reduced our major wireless carrier options from four to three. Recognizing that this would actually be a bad thing for US wireless customers (aka all of us), T-Mobile agreed with the FCC’s blessing to a set of terms that would theoretically allow Dish Network to be Sprint’s in our wireless landscape. will give space to fill the hole. .

In other words, a wireless competitor was allowed to reduce competition only if it agreed to help establish another competitor in its place. Sounds a little suspicious, doesn’t it? Of course a deal like this would involve a lot of conditions, requirements and oversight to make sure it would actually work.

But looking back, these were the key requirements on T-Mobile to position Dish as a competitor:

  • Sell ​​Sprint’s prepaid business, including Boost Mobile, to Dish within 120 days of the termination of the merger, and maintain Boost’s competitiveness prior to the divestiture
  • Provide Dish’s wireless customers access to the T-Mobile network for at least six years through a wholesale MVNO agreement while Dish builds its network
  • Provide transition services for up to three years after Boost to ensure customers move smoothly
  • Don’t do anything hostile to the boost, such as throttling or limiting access to new network technologies
  • Sell ​​Sprint’s 800MHz Spectrum Dish Three Years After Merger Concludes
  • Give Dish the option to acquire old Sprint sale sites and retail stores, which T-Mobile chooses to decommission
  • Provide Dish with reasonable advance notice of network transition plans that may affect Boost customers

What it lacks is any definition of success. The plan’s success rested on Dish’s shoulders, not T-Mobile’s, requiring Dish to legally cover 70 percent of the US population with 5G by 2023 (or now probably 2025)

Here we are, almost a year later and so far, T-Mobile has technically done everything it said it would do for Dish so far. But are our plans to move to a fourth wireless carrier working? It certainly doesn’t seem so. The fact that Dish has now fled into the arms of AT&T shows how inadequate T-Mobile’s support has been: instead of relying on a partner mandated by the $26 billion mega merger, Dish is now relying on a competitor. $5 billion has to be spent just to get it. wants to go While not final proof, it is the latest reminder that the deal was made on a shaky basis to begin with, and regulators largely took it into account that large corporations would keep their promises.

Critics of the merger deal from the outset suggested that it relied heavily on T-Mobile and Dish doing the right thing, and was so vague that it left the door open for fun business that could seriously undermine Dish’s attempt to run it. could be obstructed. The new T-Mobile wasted little time in breaking its promise of being “job-positive from day one,” and it didn’t take long to mess with Dish after the Boost sale. In October of 2020, T-Mobile told Dish that it would be shutting down Sprint’s older CDMA network—which many of Dish’s Boost customers rely on—on January 1, 2022.

T-Mobile says it went above and beyond its obligations set out in the merger deal, and that may technically be true: Regulators only need six months’ notice, and the company has filed a 14. FCC order. T-Mobile’s filing pertains to the merger. Don’t explicitly state when it anticipates shutting down the CDMA network, just that it won’t do so before January 1, 2021. But T-Mobile also publicly promised that it would “Ensure continuous and uninterrupted operation of Boost Mobile […] Following the change in ownership of Dish, “and yet its CDMA shutdown is at an even more aggressive time than rivals AT&T and Verizon.

Sending the message to customers that they will need to buy a new device and that it takes time for them to get enough phones. AT&T began notifying its customers of its February 2022 3G shutdown in July of last year, and as Dish has repeatedly pointed out, Verizon delayed shutting down its CDMA network for several years. So that customers can still get enough time to use the 3G phone. In a recent letter to the FCC, Dish also pointed to other statements from T-Mobile that led it to believe there would be a three-year period for customers to migrate from the old network. The partner should have escalated T-Mobile’s response? at least that says The dish wasn’t getting enough attention.

Giving Dish a little more than a year’s notice of a major service turmoil to many of its new customers is, to use the technical term, nonsense. (We’re not even counting the global health crisis and chip shortage, which made the task difficult.) And while T-Mobile may be right when it claims to play by the rules, it sure is. Qualifies as a fun business.

Clearly, the deal didn’t require enough from T-Mobile, and relied heavily on then-CEO John Legere and Dish’s Charlie Ergen, who seemed like too many good people to Judge Victor Marrero. Putting the responsibility of paying on Dish if it missed the 2025 deadline presumably did nothing to encourage T-Mobile to play well and help Dish. Unless Dish can pull off something incredible, it looks like we’ll be without that fourth major wireless carrier for a long time to come.

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