Dish takes its T-Mobile complaints to the FCC, with Boost customers caught in the middle

Dish takes its T-Mobile complaints to the FCC, with Boost customers caught in the middle
The relationship between T-Mobile and Dish has been... complicated ever since the latter company essentially sealed the "Un-carrier's" Sprint takeover deal by committing to entering the US wireless industry and maintaining healthy competition among the nation's major mobile network operators.

After quarreling over spectrum leases and the final price of Boost Mobile's divestiture, the second and fourth-largest wireless carriers stateside are now locking horns on a topic that might prove even more meaningful for the daily lives of millions of consumers. While Dish hopes to eventually transition all these people to the state-of-the-art 5G network it's currently building, a somewhat controversial move by T-Mo could leave them hanging in early 2022.

Boost subscribers are in danger of "disenfranchisement"

If you're having trouble grasping that metaphorical term used by Jeffrey Blum, Dish Network Corporation's Executive Vice President in charge of External & Legislative Affairs, in an April 1 (no joke) letter addressed to FCC Secretary Marlene Dortch, allow us to make things perfectly clear.

If you're a Boost Mobile customer, especially with an older device in your possession, you risk losing access to all cell services come January 1, 2022. That's only nine months away, which Dish claims is nowhere near enough time to complete a "forced migration" of such a large scale.

Basically, T-Mo is being accused of accelerating Sprint's CDMA network shutdown project for no apparent reason other than harming the competition (and millions of innocent people, many of whom face great "economic challenges" right now in the process). While Dish obviously knew this moment was coming, Blum says Magenta repeatedly referenced a vastly different shutdown timeline in various official statements and public filings of the last few years.

Specifically, the expectation was that the current "home of millions of Boost subscribers" would close its doors "three years after" the completion of the aforementioned prepaid business divestiture, giving Dish ample time to migrate everybody to a brand-new network fully capable of disrupting the status quo.

T-Mobile claims it's doing nothing wrong

In response to Dish's very public and seemingly exasperated complaint to the Federal Communications Commission, which undoubtedly came on the heels of private discussions with T-Mobile, the "Un-carrier" is succinctly and decisively rejecting all accusations of wrongdoing.

While elegantly dodging the matter of all those statements invoking a three-year grace period of sorts, T-Mo is pointing to a "required 6 month contractual agreement" that was far exceeded by a warning apparently issued to Dish way back in October 2020 regarding the January 2022 Sprint network termination target.

In Magenta's view, all of its actions pursuing the agreement made with Dish "a year and a half ago" have been "very proactive and transparent." In other words, T-Mobile is laying the blame entirely on the newest entrant into the US wireless landscape for what's about to happen to millions of Boost customers.

At the same time, the company insists it's thinking of its own customers, as well as promises made to the government back in 2019, when pushing a transition billed as "essential to the creation of the ultra-high capacity 5G network" already taking shape using primarily mid-band spectrum acquired from Sprint. Whoever might be right here, it sure sounds like the FCC needs to step in and do something to avoid the bleak early 2022 picture painted by Dish.

The easiest way out of this pickle is probably for T-Mobile to follow Verizon's example and delay the phasing out of archaic 2G/3G technologies until all but a tiny fraction of Boost's user base is migrated to a more modern cellular standard. Of course, if Dish is even partly to blame for the imminent hardship of so many of its customers, the FCC may have to intervene with some kind of punitive action as well, especially if Charlie Ergen continues to drag his feet on the company's 5G rollout.

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