In a letter to the Federal Communications Commission, Dish accused T-Mobile of becoming precisely the type of incumbent player he has spent years trying to fight. The letter, which Axios obtained, highlights several issues, including the carrier’s current spectrum policies, but the one most likely to affect consumers is the impending shutdown of Sprint’s CDMA network. Dish says T-Mobile’s aggressive timing for this event will hurt more than 9 million wireless customers.
As a new entrant in the mobile market, Dish is currently dependent on T-Mobile for the network services that underpin its wireless business. Obtain regulatory approval for its $ 26 billion merger with Sprint, T Mobile agreed to sell Boost Mobile to a competitor. In 2020, Flat paid $ 1.4 billion to purchase the Sprint prepaid brand from the carrier. The company ultimately plans to transfer the 9 million subscribers it has acquired under the deal to its own 5G network. But until that is built, these customers get wireless service through Sprint’s legacy network.
T-Mobile is currently planning to shut down that portion of its network on January 1, 2022. As of the date of the letter, that leaves Dish 276 days to migrate those customers to new devices. It’s a timeline Dish says it can’t meet, not only because of the numbers involved, but also because of the shortage of devices and chips. “A forced migration of this magnitude in this accelerated time frame is simply not possible and will potentially leave millions of Boost subscribers disenfranchised and without cellular service on January 1, 2022,” the company said in the letter.
According to Axios, the company initially expected to have up to three to five years of access to the CDMA portion of Sprint’s network. In the letter, he highlights Verizon’s CDMA shutdown for its more measured approach. The carrier (Verizon is the owner of Engadget’s parent company, Verizon Media) has delayed moving several times over the years and claims it will affect less than one percent of its customer base. In addition, it is currently scheduled to conclude a year after the shutdown of T-Mobile.
“A majority of our 9 million Boost subscribers have devices that depend on Sprint’s CDMA network and will be harmed if T-Mobile prematurely terminates that network. Mr. Sievert’s statement that 90% of these subscribers will have one T-Mobile device per year reinforces our view that they plan to attack Boost customers directly with an expedited shutdown in order to drive customers straight back to T -Mobile, ”said Stephen Stokols, director of Boost Mobile, in a statement to Engadget. “As discussed on our conference call, we believe this is highly anti-competitive. We hope T-Mobile will reconsider its decision to shut down the CDMA network prematurely so that 100% of Boost subscribers are not affected and DISH can continue to provide consumers with competitive choices. “
We have also reached out to T-Mobile for comment. We will update this article when we hear from the company.