Dish Plots Mobile Business Overhaul


Dish Network executives detailed plans to revamp its recently acquired Boost Mobile prepaid business, shifting strategy to pursue more profitable customers in a bid to help offset the costs of an MVNO deal with T-Mobile US.

Company chairman Charlie Ergen explained during a call with investors that while former Boost Mobile owner Sprint could be more flexible about the kind of customers it acquired, “we have to pay T-Mobile for the network, so we have to run it a little bit different”.

Dish Network purchased 9.3 million Boost Mobile customers from T-Mobile in July following the operator’s merger with Sprint. It is using connectivity supplied via an MVNO agreement with T-Mobile to offer service while it works to build a standalone (SA) 5G network.

Ergen said it is working to “clean up” its subscriber rolls, noting “some customers that were very good customers for Sprint potentially aren’t good customers for us”.

The comments came as Dish Network launched several new Boost Mobile tariffs ranging from US$10 per month for 1GB of high-speed data to US$35 per month for 10GB of data. All plans include unlimited voice and messaging, with additional data available for US$5 for 1GB or US$10 for 2GB.

Ergen added he expects margins for the mobile business will be low until it makes substantial progress building its own network and can reap the benefits of owner economics.

Dish Network aims to launch its first SA 5G market later this year and cover 70 per cent of the US population by June 2023.

India’s Supreme Court told the country’s government to investigate ways to recover historical adjusted gross revenue (AGR) fees from bankrupt mobile operators, Hindustan Times reported, raising the possibility of selling any remaining spectrum to raise the cash.

The court cited defunct operators Aircel, which called it quits in 2018; Videocon Communications, which ceased operations in 2016; and Reliance Communications (RCom), still undergoing bankruptcy proceedings.

RCom’s mobile assets are currently in the process of being sold-off and some of its subsidiaries in other sectors are still operational. It announced it would quit the mobile market in 2017 and, after failing to sell assets to rival Reliance Jio, began the bankruptcy process in 2019.

The Supreme Court request was made as part of an ongoing hearing on the payment of AGR by operators, a case now adjourned until 14 August.

AGR demands have put significant financial strains on Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea, the latter of which is liable for historical fees from both constituent operators Vodafone India and Idea Cellular.

Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea have each slammed the demands and appealed for more time to raise the cash to cover the fees.

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