Telecom & Wireless

After Sprint/T-Mobile Merger, Dish Aims to Be the #4 Wireless Company Now

Dish Network Corp. (NASDAQ: DISH) announced Wednesday that it has completed its $1.4 billion acquisition of Boost Mobile, formerly part of the T-Mobile US Inc. (NYSE: TMUS) wireless business.

Dish, which experienced a drop of 500,000 subscribers last year to its satellite TV service, is continuing its “evolution as a connectivity company” by adding more than 9 million Boost wireless customers. Other smaller wireless providers like Q Link and FreedomPop, both reported to have been interested in acquiring Boost, also will be looking to grow.

T-Mobile acquired Boost in its merger with Sprint. The deal closed in April, and in mid-June, the U.S. Department of Justice cleared the way for the sale of T-Mobile’s prepaid wireless business, a condition of the merger, to Dish. T-Mobile had operated the prepaid business under three names: Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile and Sprint. Dish has combined the brands under the Boost Mobile name.

Originally part of Sprint, which acquired it in a misbegotten 2004 merger with Nextel, Boost was estimated to have 7 to 8 million subscribers in 2019 and was estimated at the time to be worth as much as $3 billion.

Boost is among many wireless carriers known as mobile virtual network operators, or MVNOs. What that means is that the company’s services depend on someone else’s network. In this case, the network is owned by T-Mobile, which had agreed to offer wholesale pricing to Boost’s buyer that was better than the best rates that either T-Mobile or Sprint previously offered.

John Swieringa, Dish’s group president for retail wireless and the company’s chief operating officer, will be in charge of Boost. He said, “Boost is uniquely positioned to disrupt this industry.” Where have we heard that before?

Boost is bringing back its $hrink-it subscription plan that gives customers a $5 bill reduction on the $45 subscription price for a 15GB data package after making three payments on time and another $5 reduction after making a total of six on-time payments.

In its announcement, Dish said that it will have access to T-Mobile’s network for seven years along, with the capability to serve customers “between” new T-Mobile’s nationwide network and Dish’s own forthcoming virtualized standalone 5G network. The company claims that the new virtualized network will be the first of its kind in the United States.

Boost already has begun to migrate customers with compatible devices to the T-Mobile network, where they will get a stronger signal, more speed and wider coverage than with the old Boost/Sprint network.

Dish Network stock traded up about 0.8% in the noon hour Wednesday, at $34.79 in a 52-week range of $17.09 to $44.66. The consensus 12-month price target on the stock is $39.82.