Dish Network Closes Deal for Boost Mobile as It Pivots to 5G

Dish Network DirecTV Logos - H - 2020

The pay TV company is now focusing its new investments on building out a 5G network as the satellite TV business continues to shrink.

Satellite TV company Dish Network says it has closed on its acquisition of the prepaid service Boost Mobile from T-Mobile, effectively making the pay-TV company the country’s fourth major mobile provider alongside Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile.

The divestiture was required by the U.S. Department of Justice as a prerequisite for T-Mobile and Sprint’s $26 billion merger.

In a statement Wednesday, U.S. assistant attorney general Makan Delrahim congratulated the companies on completing the divestiture. “This deal is a significant milestone in realizing the Department of Justice’s remedy, which is designed to strengthen competition for high-quality 5G networks and benefit American consumers nationwide,” Delrahim said.

The deal also marks a new focus for Dish, which was founded in 1980 by Charlie Ergen, and still has more than 11 million pay-TV subscribers between Dish and its streaming video service Sling TV.

With Boost’s 9 million-plus mobile customers now part of the company, and with guaranteed access to T-Mobile’s wireless network for seven years, Dish is now pivoting to a mobile-first future, as the pay-TV business continues its secular decline.

“It positions us well as we continue to build out the first virtualized, standalone 5G network in America,” says Dish CEO Erik Carlson in a statement announcing the closing.

 “[The deal gives us] all the ingredients that we need to be a full fledged competitor,” Ergen told a Goldman Sachs conference last year. “We also believe that with a clean sheet of paper, you could build [a network] differently,” Ergen added, arguing that the company could create industrial or enterprise applications “that incumbents may have a hard time with.”

Dish has spent more than $20 billion over the past decade buying wireless spectrum, and the acquisition of Boost cements its place as a wireless competitor. Now, the company plans to use the seven year window provided by access to T-Mobile’s network to build out its own 5G offering.

“The FCC and DOJ have shown continued leadership in advancing the nation’s 5G wireless future, and thanks to their efforts, DISH is able to focus our resources on building the only 5G network in the U.S. based on Open RAN architecture, completely from the ground up,” said Carlson.