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Boost Mobile at the Center of DISH Wireless and T-Mobile Feud

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DISH Wireless and T-Mobile are at odds and caught in the middle is Boost Mobile. T-Mobile is planning to shut down its CDMA network, a network many Boost Mobile handsets are said to depend on, come the beginning of 2022. This means that many customers could be lost by Boost Mobile due to the need for upgrading a handset to continue connecting to Boost. DISH Wireless believes that the move is not as pure as upgrading a network to make way for 5G, but is a move to get back some of the customers lost by T-Mobile.

When DISH Wireless purchased Boost Mobile, T-Mobile gained the opportunity to merge with Sprint but lost a notable MVNO brand and along with it, millions of subscribers. Fast forward to today, and we can see a battle where the two sides dispute this notion.

“Nobody’s having anything unplugged,” said T-Mobile’s CEO, Mike Sievert. He also said that around 90% of Boost Mobile customers’ handsets are compatible with T-Mobile’s network or will be by the end of 2021. Sievert acknowledged that some users will need to upgrade to new handsets, but noted that DISH Wireless would handle this through “incentives and promotions.”

On the other side, DISH Wireless maintains that this move will affect Boost customers, many of whom have lower-incomes, which can make the transition or upgrade difficult for the 9 million within its subscriber base. 

“A majority of our 9 million Boost subscribers have devices that rely on Sprint’s CDMA network and will be harmed if T-Mobile prematurely shuts down that network. Mr. Sievert’s statement on Friday that 90% of those subscribers will have a T-Mobile compatible device by year’s end reinforces our view that they are planning to directly attack Boost customers with an accelerated shut down in order to churn customers directly to T-Mobile,” said Stephen Stokols, the Executive Vice President of Boost Mobile. “As discussed during our conference call, we believe this is highly anti-competitive. We hope that T-Mobile reconsiders its decision to shut down the CDMA network prematurely so 100% of Boost subscribers will not be impacted and DISH can continue providing consumers with competitive choices.”

T-Mobile believes that this shut down will present better opportunities for both consumers and everyone else within the wireless industry because it will help bring about better 5G capabilities, faster. “Everybody’s a winner and nobody’s a loser,” said Sievert. The company also claims that it spoke to DISH Wireless in October 2020 about the changes that are coming and that everything is going the way it should. “Everything we are doing here is exactly consistent with the agreement that DISH made with us a year and a half ago, and we have been very proactive and transparent about the timing for this transition with all of our MVNOs, including DISH. We gave DISH notice in October 2020 for a January (1), 2022 transition, far more than the required 6-month contractual agreement,” said T-Mobile. “Our agreement with DISH is also clear that they are responsible for migrating Boost customers, just as we are responsible for migrating Sprint customers, and we are confident that DISH is already making plans to take good care of their impacted customers prior to the transition date. Given the advance notice that they received, just a small percentage of Boost customers should need to upgrade their handsets by the end of this year, and typically those customers would be supported with incentives and promotions to get their handsets upgraded.”

The founder of Boost Mobile, Peter Adderton, also finds himself wrapped up in the middle of everything going on and advocating for consumers who are the ones who will feel the most affected through their mobile plans. “This is not about DISH and Charlie Ergen. This is about making sure that those customers aren’t disrupted any more than they need to be,” he stated. “It’s arrogant, and it’s not arrogant against Charlie Ergen and DISH…It’s against customers who had no choice in this merger. 5G has become the get-out-of-jail card for all the carriers…it doesn’t give you a pass, because most of these customers don’t even care about 5G. They just need connectivity.” In the end, Adderton doesn’t seem to want to instigate the feud, but doesn’t have a problem pointing out the issues surrounding Boost Mobile. “They’re saying I started it, but I think, more importantly, I highlighted it. I highlighted, as I have been for the last three years, exactly the playbook that T-Mobile would use, and here they are,” he said.

Source: Fierce Wireless

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