Dish still reports net drops in wireless subscribers
To reassure the FCC, which was concerned about the reduction in the number of major airlines from four to three (a 25% reduction), Dish pledged to replace Sprint as the country’s fourth-largest airline. As it builds out its 5G standalone network, Dish is a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO), meaning it buys wireless service wholesale from T-Mobile and AT&T and sells it to the public at retail prices.
Dish Wireless continued to lose subscribers in the first quarter
So far, Dish has had trouble retaining wireless subscribers. Dish Wireless started with the 9.3 million subscribers it gained when it closed the purchase of Sprint’s prepaid business. That deal gave Dish 7,500 stores and 400 employees. But since the deal closed, that number of customers is moving south. Last February, CEO Ergen admitted that it was his fault that the company was six months behind with the rollout of 5G.
And by June 14, 2023, Dish must cover at least 70% of the US population with wireless service equal to or greater than 35 Mbps, verified by a disk test. It must also have at least 15,000 5G cell sites up and running by that date. If Dish fails to meet these numbers in time, it will make a “voluntary contribution” to the US Treasury worth as much as $2.2 billion.
Dish says wireless expansion is still on track
Following the publication of the results, during Dish’s conference call, company president Erik Carlson had good news that the rollout of the company’s wireless network is on track. The executive added that Dish had settled all outstanding issues with T-Mobile during the quarter on favorable terms. At issue was the earlier-than-expected shutdown of T-Mobile’s 3G CDMA service, which negatively impacted Boost Mobile customers that Dish acquired in the Sprint deal.
Carlson said during the conference call that the accelerated CDMA shutdown planned by T-Mobile negatively impacted Dish Wireless during the first quarter and affected its competitiveness. Dish is awaiting DOJ approval before it can officially settle its disputes with T-Mobile, including cases related to the CDMA shutdown. Dish remains optimistic that the DOJ will approve the settlement with T-Mobile soon.
Dish Network shares took a hit on Friday, falling $5.26 or 19.14% to $22.22.