DISH as Wireless Carrier: What's that mean for me and 5G?

Today DISH stood to gain in a BIG way thanks to the merger between Sprint and T-Mobile USA approved by the United States Department of Justice. T-Mobile USA and Sprint will become one carrier, but they'll need to divest control of a whole lot of STUFF to DISH in order to make that merger possible. DISH will effectively become a "national facilities-based wireless carrier," and will deploy the "Nation's First Standalone 5G Broadband Network."

What does DISH gain?

DISH gains a bunch of services and support and customers from Sprint and T-Mobile. The complete collection of acquisitions was outlined by DISH and the Department of Justice today. All of what follows happens only following the completion of the merger of Sprint and T-Mobile.

DISH will acquire:

• Sprint's prepaid businesses

• Sprint's prepaid customers

– Prepaid acquisitions include

••• Boost Mobile

••• Virgin Mobile

••• Sprint-branded prepaid service

• 14 MHz of Sprint's nationwide 800 MHz spectrum

DISH will gain access to:

• New T-Mobile network for seven years

– This includes "the ability to serve DISH customers seamlessly between T-Mobile's nationwide network and DISH's new independent 5G broadband network"


• New eSIM rules for the lot of them

• New Carrier unlock rules for the lot of them

Does that make DISH like Verizon, AT&T, Sprint/T-Mo?

Sorta, yeah, it does. According to DISH Co-Founder and Chairman Charlie Ergen, "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."

The agreement with the US government requires that DISH take up the mantel of the fourth big carrier here in the USA. Part of that agreement is that they make a massive effort to make 5G a reality across the USA in a certain amount of time – for lots and lots of potential consumers.

"The new commitments require DISH to use its spectrum to deploy a nationwide 5G broadband network covering at least 70 percent of the U.S. population by June 14, 2023." If DISH doesn't reach this goal on time, they'll "make voluntary contributions to the U.S. Treasury of up to $2.2 billion."

So either we get a 5G network or the US Treasury gets cash. I feel like these things are not very equitable... but who am I to say, really?

The arrangements made with the government, T-Mobile, Sprint, and DISH, also "provide DISH the option" to buy up a bunch of tower, network equipment and retail assets that'd otherwise just be decommissioned during the Sprint and T-Mobile integration process.

What does this mean for me?

If you're a current T-Mobile or Sprint customer that doesn't work with a pre-paid phone, you'll be dealing with the new company formed by Sprint and T-Mobile. If you're a prepaid customer with Boost Mobile, Virgin Mobile, or the Sprint-branded prepaid service, you'll be dealing with DISH, very soon.

Incidentally, if you happen to have any trouble or want to report any of your interactions with either company in the near future, by all means let us know! Head over to the Send News Tips tipline or hit us up on Twitter at @SlashGear. You can also shoot me a message on Reddit at u/CA77 – let's talk about it!