Dish Network executives warned its fledgling mobile business could be significantly impacted by a plan from MVNO partner T-Mobile US to decommission its CDMA network on 1 January 2022.

During a Q4 earnings call, Dish Network chairman Charlie Ergen branded the planned shutdown anti-competitive, arguing affected customers will “only have a couple” of options if the operator is not able to find another way to serve them by that point.

He added T-Mobile would “obviously” be one of the primary beneficiaries of customer departures.

John Swieringa, Dish Network EVP and president of retail wireless, stated it was “planning a big migration” given a “majority” of its mobile subscribers still use T-Mobile’s CDMA network.

He said a key focus was ensuring devices compatible with Dish Network’s 5G network would be made available in time, to ensure customers don’t face two technology changes.

“We can’t be certain that the network will actually shutdown on that timeline, but we have to plan and act as if it will, which will be costly for us.”

5G update
Dish Network is in the early stages of building a standalone (SA) 5G network, with launches in a handful of smaller markets due in the current quarter and major cities to be added from Q3.

Ergen said the operator expects to encounter a few technical issues following the launch, but once those are solved “every month after the third quarter we’ll be doing multiple cities” to reach a government-mandated coverage target of 20 per cent of the US population by June 2022.

Net income attributable to Dish Network jumped 88.1 per cent year-on-year in Q4 to $732.6 million and revenue increased 40.6 per cent to $4.55 billion.

The operator lost 363,000 mobile subscribers, ending the quarter with 9.06 million: it attributed the decline to ongoing efforts to overhaul its user base.