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DISH Acquires Republic Wireless, Is It About Bonded Calling?

DISH Acquires Republic Wireless
DISH Acquires Republic Wireless

By Joe Paonessa – Mar 8, 2021
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DISH Network Corporation announced that it has agreed to acquire Republic Wireless. The full terms of the deal have not been disclosed, but DISH will acquire the brand, some 200,000 customers, as well as other supporting assets. The "other supporting assets" are likely the key to this deal. For now, current Republic Wireless customers have been told that they won't see any immediate changes to their wireless experience or plans.

Last September, Stephen Stokols was announced as the Executive Vice President of DISH's Boost Mobile brand. Stokols founded the MVNO brands FreedomPop in 2012 and Unreal Mobile in 2018. He later went on to sell both brands in 2019. Following the recent moves made by DISH, it seems that Stokols and DISH are interested in bringing some of the things that made FreedomPop and Unreal Mobile successful brands to Boost Mobile.

Boost's New $5.99/month Privacy Bundle Add-On

On Friday, Fierce Wireless reported that Boost Mobile introduced a new privacy-focused add-on bundle to Boost's wireless plans. The bundle costs $5.99/month and includes tools that feature encrypted Wi-Fi, visual voicemail, and spam call blocking. Stokols told Fierce Wireless that privacy is one of the four macro-areas that the prepaid brand is focusing on to come up with products that bring value to customers. If this all sounds familiar to you, it's because Stokols offered a very similar bundle while the FreedomPop and Unreal Mobile brands were under his control. A premium privacy-focused add-on was available with FreedomPop plans that included a VPN to encrypt data connections. Unreal Mobile also launched with those features included with its plans but were later made to be available as paid add-ons.

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Those also familiar with FreedomPop's and Unreal Mobile's histories know that both brands also utilized at least in part, VoIP calling, a type of voice calling over data networks that include WiFi. FreedomPop's base plans only offered VoIP calling. By providing VoIP calling instead of using its carrier partner's voice networks, FreedomPop was able to save itself money and thus increase potential margins by not having to pay as much to the carriers. With DISH's acquisition of Republic Wireless today, they are purchasing a similar, though not quite the same technology from Republic Wireless called Bonded Calling.

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Republic Wireless is an MVNO that operates on the T-Mobile network and the former Sprint network but also uses Bonded Calling. With Bonded Calling, Republic Wireless subscribers automatically are able to establish up to two simultaneous connections for every call, one over WiFI and one over a cellular data network. Whichever network provides the best call quality at a given moment serves as the primary source for the call, while the other network serves as a fallback in case the primary signal gets lost. I believe this to be one of the big assets that DISH was interested in with its acquisition as it can be used to potentially save DISH some money.

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Fierce Wireless reports that another important asset being acquired from Republic Wireless is Relay. Relay is a solution for "frontline teams in hospitals, healthcare, education, facilities management, and manufacturing." It will serve to help get DISH's foot in the door with the Internet of Things and the lucrative enterprise space.

What Is DISH's Next Move?

What DISH's next move with Boost Mobile might be is hard to say. But this is the second acquisition that DISH has made in just over 6-months time. Last August, the company also purchased Ting assets from its parent company Tucows. The key to that deal was that DISH gained access to Ting's mobile software technology used for customer billing, activation, provisioning, and funnel marketing. Perhaps DISH will have its eye on more acquisitions down the road. Especially if Verizon is allowed to purchase Tracfone, a move that may require Verizon to spin off some Tracfone brands. Tracfone brands like Simple Mobile and Walmart Family Mobile operate exclusively on the T-Mobile network. DISH meanwhile has an MVNO agreement in place with T-Mobile lasting 7-years, so those Tracfone brands and their distribution channels could be a good fit for the company.


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