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Dish, T-Mobile agree to new terms of master network agreement


Dish and T-Mobile today said they’ve agreed to new terms related to their master network services agreement (MNSA). As a result, Dish will pay lower rates to T-Mobile for the use of T-Mobile’s network, with these reduced rates applied retroactively to January 22, 2022. And Dish has agreed to a minimum purchase commitment to T-Mobile of $3.3 billion over the course of the MNSA. The MNSA was first entered on July 1, 2020 with a seven-year term, so there are five years remaining on the agreement.


The parties had been involved in a year-long dispute about Dish’s use of T-Mobile’s CDMA spectrum. This spectrum was especially important to Dish’s prepaid wireless service Boost Mobile.


During the first quarter of 2022, Dish and T-Mobile reached a proposed settlement that would have resolved this conflict. However, the Department of Justice (DoJ) never approved the proposed settlement. And the matter became moot after T-Mobile shut down this spectrum on May 31.


Now, the parties have agreed to amendments to their MNSA, moving forward. In addition to the pricing terms and purchase commitment, the new agreement has some provisions related to Boost.


T-Mobile will providing certain assistance to Dish with respect to the Boost customers who have been migrated off of T-Mobile’s CDMA network. Such assistance includes the provision of replacement devices for CDMA customers and marketing support.


T-Mobile has also agreed to transfer to Dish all Boost-branded customers of former Sprint affiliates, Shentel and Swiftel, as well as Boost-branded customers who were previously part of the California Public Utilities Commission CARE program. Dish expects to receive more than 100,000 customers as a result of these transfers.


Roaming

The new MNSA terms also remove certain restrictions on Dish’s ability to provide roaming services to customers within the T-Mobile network footprint.


Conversely, T-Mobile has agreed to provide nationwide standard domestic access and in-market roaming to Dish’s wireless customers within the T-Mobile network footprint, and this includes areas within the markets where Dish is deploying its own 5G network.


"We are pleased to have reached new terms with T-Mobile that provide Dish with the ability to be more competitive and to meet our customers' evolving needs," said John Swieringa, president and COO of Dish Wireless, in a statement. "Dish's 5G network now covers more than 20% of the U.S. population, and this amendment gives our customers enhanced access to nationwide coverage and in-market roaming while we continue to deploy our own 5G network."


T-Mobile’s Chief Marketing Officer Mike Katz said, "While Dish customers will benefit from our network, this deal also locks in a multi-billion dollar revenue commitment for our business. It's a win-win."


All of these new terms must still be approved by the DoJ’s Antitrust Division. And the parties say that if the DoJ does not approve the terms by August 14, 2022, the agreement could be terminated unless the parties agree to extend the period.


New Street Research analyst Jonathan Chaplin wrote that, if approved, the new deal between Dish and T-Mobile will increase profit at Boost materially.


The precise terms of the amendment to the MNSA between the parties will be filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission as an exhibit to Dish’s quarterly report on Form 10-Q for the period ended June 30, 2022.


Background

Dish offers nationwide prepaid and postpaid retail wireless services to subscribers under its Boost Mobile, Ting Mobile, Republic Wireless and Gen Mobile brands. In addition to its MNSA with T-Mobile, Dish also has a 10-year Network Services Agreement with AT&T. Dish says that as of March 31, 2022, it had 8.2 million retail wireless subscribers.


New Street’s Chaplin said he believes the new MVNO rate with T-Mobile “is about the same” as the rate Dish struck with AT&T.


“If we are correct that Dish has a similar rate with AT&T and T-Mobile, Dish will be financially indifferent as to which network carries the traffic (though the agreements may require them to prioritize one),” said Chaplin. “We estimate that the new MVNO rate could increase Boost EBITDA from $0.1 billion to $0.5 billion in 2022.”

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