Dish Network seems to be in the middle of a muddle on a few fronts.
First, the company experienced a cybersecurity attack on February 23, and the effects still aren’t resolved. And secondly, the company was supposedly working to roll out its Boost Infinite postpaid wireless service this quarter.
But as of this morning, the Boost Infinite website is still showing a message that says, “We are experiencing a systems issue that our teams are working hard to resolve.” The Boost Mobile website — for its prepaid service — is also showing the same message.
The company has already pushed out the launch of Boost Infinite a couple of times. In May 2022 Dish executives were planning to launch the postpaid service in the fall. In August 2022, the master dealer Celluphone was photographed at a wireless show advertising the opening of Boost Infinite stores in 25 markets. It appeared that Celluphone was helping Boost to establish a presence in those markets.
But now, Jeff Moore, principal of Wave7 Research, says that Celluphone is going out of business.
According to Moore, prior to 2022, Celluphone got a lot of its business from Verizon, acting as a Verizon Prepaid master dealer, providing everything that retail stores need to sell the Verizon Prepaid service. But that relationship ended in 2021.
Then last August, Celluphone had a booth at the All Wireless & Prepaid Expo in Las Vegas, with a large placard advertising its work with Boost Infinite. “But, for whatever reason, that fell apart,” said Moore.
Now, Celluphone is closing up shop.
Moore predicts that Boost Infinite will be sold in select Boost Mobile stores this spring. Boost Mobile had 4,424 stores as of November 2022, down from 4,670 stores in May 2022, according to Wave7 Research data. Moore is skeptical of the strategy to sell a postpaid brand at prepaid locations because the demographics of the customers are quite different.
Asked for an update on its cybersecurity attack, a Dish spokesperson sent the same statement that it’s been using for several days and which our sister publication Fierce Video has covered. Dish also reported this same information on an SEC form 8-K.
In summary, the cybersecurity incident affected its internal communications, customer call centers and internet sites. Dish knows that some data was extracted from its IT systems, but it’s not yet sure if customers’ personal information was stolen.
It says its DISH TV, Sling TV and wireless services continue to operate and are up and running.
However, some people on Twitter are complaining. One person said their Boost Mobile account has problems, and they feel “digitally kidnapped.”
Boost Mobile runs on the networks of T-Mobile and AT&T. Moore said Dish’s problems have impacted its ability to activate and adjust accounts on the AT&T network.
“If you’re activating with Boost they have to put you on an AT&T or T-Mobile website," said Moore. "The AT&T activation portal has been problematic."
Moore stopped by a Boost Mobile store in Kansas City on February 28. The store officially closes at 7 pm, but the doors were locked at 6:50 pm, and there was a note on the door, saying the system is down.
During all this cybersecurity strife, Dish’s stock has dropped from $13.76 per share on February 23 to $11.36 on March 8.
Interestingly, on March 2, the co-founder of Dish, James DeFranco, must have figured that the middle of a company crisis was a good time to purchase stock. Dish filed an SEC Form 4, reporting that DeFranco purchased 1.45 million of the company’s common shares for $10.84 per share.
Dish’s 5G greenfield network
Not only is Dish struggling with a cybersecurity incident and the rollout of its Boost Infinite postpaid service, but of course, it’s biggest challenge right now is building a 5G wireless network that covers 70% of the U.S. population by mid-June.
On the same day as Dish’s cybersecurity outage, John Swieringa, president and COO of Dish Wireless, told investors on the company’s Q4 earnings call that Dish's 5G network is currently live in 12 markets covering 30 million POPs, offering both 5G data and voice services using voice over new radio (VoNR).
At the end of 2022 Dish Wireless had started construction on more than 15,000 5G cell sites. It will need about 17,500 sites deployed to hit its mid-June target.
According to Moore, Dish is sending “rainbow SIMs” or “tri-SIMs” to retail store dealers. These SIMs can operate on the networks of AT&T, T-Mobile and Dish. “Dealers were informed in late February that as of February 21 the Galaxy A23 could be activated on the ‘Boost 5G Network,’ which is the internal name used for the new Dish network,” wrote Moore in a report.