The FCC and the U.S. Department of Justice each released statements on Wednesday recognizing T-Mobile’s divestiture of Boost Mobile to Dish Network—one of the conditions on which the government approved the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint last year.
“I congratulate T-Mobile and Dish for closing the Boost divestiture as required under the Final Judgment,” said Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim of the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division in a statement. “This deal is a significant milestone in realizing the Department of Justice’s remedy, which is designed to strengthen competition for high-quality 5G networks and benefit American consumers nationwide.”
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai also welcomed the announcements by T-Mobile and Dish that the divestiture of Boost to Dish had been completed. The commission conditioned its 2019 approval of T-Mobile’s acquisition of Sprint on T-Mobile divesting Boost, “so that price-sensitive customers in densely populated areas would not be harmed by the merger,” according to the FCC.
“I’m pleased to see that T-Mobile has met one of its most important merger commitments,” Pai said in his statement. “Today’s action is a key step towards promoting vigorous competition in the wireless marketplace, particularly for price-conscious consumers in our nation’s cities. I also welcome Dish’s entry into the mobile industry. With this divestiture and its existing spectrum resources, Dish has the potential to make a big impact on a wireless marketplace that is transitioning to 5G, the next generation of wireless connectivity. Of course, while this divestiture is good news, the commission remains committed to ensuring that T-Mobile and DISH comply in the coming months and years with all of the conditions imposed by the FCC in this proceeding.”
The DoJ initially opposed the merger as anti-competitive, but last summer came up with a “remedy” by which Dish would serve as a fourth national competitor, replacing Sprint.
Opponents to the deal continue to doubt whether Dish will build out a competitive 5G network, but the company has touted progress, including the hiring of wireless industry veterans and the selection of three vendors thus far to help in the network deployment. Its network will be based on the 5G New Radio (NR) standalone (SA) standard that doesn’t rely on LTE as an anchor.
While Dish builds out that network, it committed to operate Boost using T-Mobile’s network in an MVNO arrangement due to last seven years. The multi-pronged deal included the divestiture of Sprint’s 800 MHz spectrum assets to Dish and gives Dish an option to take on leases for certain cell sites and retail locations that are decommissioned by the newly combined T-Mobile/Sprint.