Satellite television provider Dish Network has announced its plan to acquire cell carrier Republic Wireless, Dish said on Monday. The acquisition, when it closes, will give Dish roughly 200,000 wireless customers to help boost its 5G network, which Dish plans to launch later this year. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Dish says Republic Wireless customers won’t see any immediate changes to their plans and won’t have to take any action on their accounts.
Dish became a major player in the telecom business last year when it finalized its purchase of Sprint’s Boost Mobile business for $1.4 billion, as part of a sale Sprint was required to make to merge with T-Mobile. Dish has since signaled its intentions to launch a 5G network in the US by buying up costly spectrum and acquiring small cell carriers, like Ting Mobile, to acquire the necessary technology and the customer base to turn its investments into viable future businesses.
Republic Wireless is an MVNO, or a mobile virtual network operator, that leases network infrastructure from T-Mobile. Like the Ting acquisition, which gave Dish access to Ting parent company Tucows’ backend mobile services, the Republic Wireless acquisition will turn the carrier’s existing Relay division into a vital tool for Dish’s telecom push. Dish says Relay will continue to be a standalone business, but it will also become a customer of the network’s 5G division.
“Relay provides communication and productivity solutions for frontline teams in hospitality, facilities management, manufacturing, healthcare and education,” the press release says, “and it will become a wholesale customer on Dish’s 5G network.”
“Republic has created a loyal following and established a brand known for innovation, customer service and value. We plan to build upon that strong foundation,” Dish COO John Swieringa said in a statement.
Update March 8th, 3:42PM ET: Clarified that Republic Wireless’ Relay division will continue to operate as a standalone business.