Dish’s next step into wireless service is buying another small provider

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Dish has acquired Ting Mobile, a small cell service provider, in its latest step toward becoming a major nationwide carrier. Ting launched in 2012 and had 286,000 subscribers as of July 2018, making it downright tiny. Since Ting relied on other carriers’ wireless networks, the acquisition really only gives Dish the branding and customers.

The bigger piece of this deal is something that most people won’t see: Ting’s parent company, the internet services company Tucows, will provide backend mobile services for the nationwide network Dish is building out. That includes core functions like customer billing, phone activation, and network provisioning — services that Dish needs in place before it can launch a truly independent wireless service.

Dish has been planning to get into the wireless market for years, but it’s really only gotten started in recent months. On July 1st, Dish’s acquisition of Boost Mobile closed, giving it 9 million subscribers and access to T-Mobile’s network for seven years. That’s supposed to be enough time for Dish to build out a nationwide wireless network of its own, and Dish has said it’s now looking for vendors to build out its 5G infrastructure.

These changes in the wireless market come in response to T-Mobile’s acquisition of Sprint, which closed in April. Approval of the deal was heavily predicated on Dish’s desire to turn into a new nationwide competitor. To get things started, Dish purchased Boost and other prepaid assets away from Sprint and was given temporary access to T-Mobile’s network. Now that those first steps are complete, we’re seeing Dish take steps to build out its own service.

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