Dish Network Entering Wireless Mobile Market

Where are those Blockbuster Video stores now?

Dish Network is becoming the nation’s fourth wireless carrier following the Department of Justice’s approval of T-Mobile’s $26.5 billion acquisition of Sprint.

In a shrewd deal hammered out by Dish co-founder/chairman Charlie Ergen, the satellite TV operator helped facilitate the merger’s anti-trust issues with regulators by getting T-Mobile and Sprint to agree to sell prepaid wireless service Boost Mobile and related spectrum assets for $5 billion.

The prepaid businesses, including Boost Mobile, serve approximately 9.3 million customers in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

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At close, Sprint’s prepaid businesses and customers will immediately move to Dish, as will the more than 400 employees and nationwide independent retail network that supports more than 7,500 retail outlets.

Dish’s asset acquisitions from Sprint include a $1.4 billion purchase of Sprint’s prepaid businesses, and a $3.6 billion agreement to purchase Sprint’s nationwide 800 MHz wireless spectrum. The spectrum purchase is expected to be completed three years after the closing of the acquisition of the prepaid businesses.

Dish will activate all new wireless customers on the New T-Mobile network. Existing prepaid customers will be supported on the Sprint legacy network and will eventually transition to the New T-Mobile network.

“These developments are the fulfillment of more than two decades’ worth of work and more than $21 billion in spectrum investments intended to transform Dish into a connectivity company,” Ergen said in a statement. “Taken together, these opportunities will set the stage for our entry as the nation’s fourth facilities-based wireless competitor and accelerate our work to launch the country’s first standalone 5G broadband network.”

Indeed, Dish acquired bankrupt Blockbuster Video in 2011 largely to transition the home video chain’s stores into future mobile wireless retail centers. That plan never materialized after Dish shuttered all company owned Blockbuster stores in 2013.

“As a new [satellite TV] entrant [in 1995], Dish encountered many skeptics who questioned our ability to succeed,” Ergen said. “But, customers loved the disruption we brought to the marketplace with innovations such as a 100% digital experience, local-into-local broadcast, the DVR and ad-skipping. As we enter the wireless business, we will again serve customers by disrupting incumbents and their legacy networks, this time with the nation’s first standalone 5G broadband network.”

The Sprint asset transactions are subject to customary conditions, including the closing of the Sprint and T-Mobile merger, government approvals, and confirmation that Dish is able to provision customers on the New T-Mobile network.

Closing is expected within three months following the completion of the Sprint and T-Mobile merger.

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