Dish is “six months behind” on building its 5G network in the US
T-Mobile and Sprint finally closed their merger deal in April 2020, which included many concessions to avoid possible anti-competitive behavior. T-Mobile was required to sell some wireless spectrum to another company, which would in turn create a new independent 5G-enabled mobile network — essentially taking Sprint’s place in the market. That company ended up being Dish Network, but two years later, Dish is still fumbling to roll out its mobile network.
Dish Network chairman Charlie Ergen said in a conference call with analysts and reporters on Thursday that unexpected technical issues are delaying network deployment, according to The Wall Street Journal. He said on the call, “We’re six months behind, and it’s my fault. We just didn’t anticipate that we’d have to do as much on the technical side.” Ergen specifically mentioned software integration from different suppliers and support for enhanced 911 emergency service as some of the reasons for the delay.
Dish took over Sprint’s pre-paid businesses in July 2020, which included Boost Mobile and Virign Mobile US, giving the company millions of potential customers for its new mobile network. Dish also acquired Ting Mobile in August 2020, while partnering with Ting’s former parent company (Tucows Inc.) to manage infrastructure. Dish is supposed to eventually transition those subsidiaries to its own mobile network, but the company also has long-term roaming deals with T-Mobile and AT&T to plug any gaps in coverage.
Dish’s agreement with United States federal officials required the company’s mobile network to reach 20% of the US population by this June, and 70% of the country by June 2023. If Dish can’t meet those deadlines, it could face heavy fines.
The slow rollout of Dish’s 5G network isn’t the only ongoing problem from T-Mobile and Sprint’s merger. Several former authorized Sprint dealerships recently filed lawsuits against T-Mobile, citing the merged T-Mobile forced them into anti-competitive contracts.