Dish Network has set out plans to build a cloud-native 5G network that will be operated on a wholesale-only basis, supporting large numbers of US service providers and enterprises. However, the core of its new mobile business, of course, is Boost Mobile, the MNO it acquired from Sprint as a result of that company’s merger with T-Mobile USA. Since then, Dish has acquired other mobile services providers, and has now announced that it will add Gen Mobile, a Los Angeles-based prepaid mobile provider targeting budget consumers, to the portfolio.
Gen Mobile will join the Boost division, which will be treated as a wholesale customer on Dish’s own network when that is built, despite being part of the same company. Currently, Boost operates as an MVNO – initially on the TMO/Sprint network, but recently Dish signed an agreement to transfer it to AT&T. Gen Mobile currently uses the TMO network.
Boost leader Stephen Stokols said bridging the digital divide was the main driver to acquire Gen Mobile. Dish is pushing Boost upmarket in terms of its positioning, looking to add higher value services, but it also wants a budget proposition and, said Stokols,
“we don’t want to ignore the underserved market”, especially when the government is providing funds to bridge the digital divide through several initiatives such as the federal Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program.
Since it took over Boost, which Sprint had run as an internal MVNO with a focus on the youth market, Dish has acquired two MVNOs – Ting and, in April this year, Republic Wireless. It seems the company will continue to aggregate MVNOs to extend its geographic and demographic coverage, and to ensure a healthy base of internal customers for its own wholesale network when that goes live next year.