Man on cellphone

Dish said today that its Boost Mobile unit plans to acquire Gen Mobile, which – like Boost—offers prepaid wireless service. This is the latest in a string of wireless acquisitions that Dish has made since it acquired the Boost Mobile business from Sprint.

Sprint was required to sell off the Boost business as a condition of regulatory approval of its merger with T-Mobile. Dish plans to build a nationwide 5G network and Boost is Dish’s entrée into the mobile business.
The purchase price was not disclosed and a Boost spokesperson did not immediately reply to a question about how many customers Gen Mobile has.

The other wireless acquisitions that Dish has made include Republic Wireless, a mobile provider with an emphasis on Wi-Fi connectivity and Ting Mobile, the mobile business unit of broadband provider Ting.


Boost Gen Mobile Deal

Boost apparently plans to continue to use the Gen Mobile brand. A press release about the Boost Gen Mobile deal notes that Gen Mobile CEO Robert Yap will continue to lead the Gen Mobile business, reporting to Boost Executive Vice President Stephen Stokols.

“Gen Mobile has an established brand, a proven team and an unwavering commitment to connect the underserved,” said Stokols in the press release. “The brand is a natural addition as we look to reach all segments of the mobile market.”

Gen Mobile will provide Boost with “increased distribution in underrepresented communities,” Boost noted in the release.

Like most prepaid wireless providers, Gen Mobile apparently doesn’t operate its own network but instead appears to rely on a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) agreement with T-Mobile.

Although the Gen Mobile website notes that customers can choose between “two of America’s largest CDMA or GSM networks,” it appears to be out of date. The GSM (and 5G) network that the website references appears to be T-Mobile and the CDMA network is specifically attributed to Sprint, which is now part of T-Mobile.

If so, that means the Gen Mobile acquisition would not address an important issue for the Boost business: A large percentage of Boost customers currently have devices that only work on the former Sprint CDMA network, which T-Mobile plans to shut down January 1, 2022. And some industry observers have expressed concern that Boost may lose some of those customers as the company aims to transition them.

Dish has asked the FCC to intervene with T-Mobile, arguing that T-Mobile’s CDMA shutdown plans are “an attack on low-income consumers” that use the Boost network.

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