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Dish said today that it plans to acquire Republic Wireless, which offers a low-cost mobile service that uses Wi-Fi when available and which falls back on the T-Mobile network when Wi-Fi is not available – an approach sometimes called “Wi-Fi First.”

Republic Wireless has approximately 200,000 customer relationships, according to a press release.

Dish has committed to building a 5G wireless network and in the meantime, has been offering mobile service through the Boost Mobile prepaid brand under a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) agreement with T-Mobile. Dish acquired the Boost business from T-Mobile last year as a condition of T-Mobile’s merger with Sprint.

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The news recently came to light that T-Mobile plans to shut down its 3G CDMA network around the beginning of next year, which will require the majority of Dish’s Boost Mobile customers to get new phones, potentially increasing churn in a business that already is seeing substantial churn.

Perhaps Dish will offer those customers the option of switching to a Wi-Fi First approach. MVNO agreements provide notoriously narrow margins — and using Wi-Fi to reduce reliance on the T-Mobile network would help boost margins on Boost Mobile service.

Republic Wireless service starts at prices as low as $15, according to the company’s website. The venture, launched 10 years ago, originally was part of Bandwidth but was spun off several years ago.

The Dish Republic Wireless deal is expected to close next quarter, according to today’s press release.

Boost and Republic Wireless aren’t the only mobile service provider acquisitions Dish has pursued over the last year. In mid-2020, Dish bought Ting Wireless, which like Republic Wireless, had innovative technology underlying its offering.

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