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Photo illustration: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Dish Network sent a letter to the FCC on Thursday, complaining that T-Mobile — its partner for wireless services — is rushing to shut down a network still used by millions of Dish's Boost Mobile customers.

Why it matters: T-Mobile's purchase of Sprint was only allowed after it agreed to sell a chunk of assets to Dish, including its Boost prepaid business. Plus, Dish is highly reliant on T-Mobile for network services as it builds out its own 5G network over the next several years.

Driving the news: Dish's letter to the FCC addresses a range of concerns, but the largest issue relates to the shutdown of the CDMA network that had previously been used by Sprint and is still used by the majority of Dish's 9 million Boost Mobile subscribers.

  • As part of the Boost sale to Dish, T-Mobile agreed to provide network services, but didn't commit to operating the CDMA service (Sprint's legacy network) for a particular length of time.
  • Dish had expected that T-Mobile would eventually look to shut down that network in three to five years, according to people familiar with Dish's thinking. But Sprint said late last year that it would look to shut it down far earlier, on Jan. 1, 2022.

What they're saying: "A forced migration of this scale under this accelerated time frame is simply not possible and will leave potentially millions of Boost subscribers disenfranchised and without cell service come January 1, 2022," Dish said in the letter.

  • It also noted that Verizon, which has only 1% of customers still on CDMA, has repeatedly delayed its shutdown and now doesn't plan to do so until 2023, a year after T-Mobile plans to do so.
  • A T-Mobile representative was not immediately available for comment.

Between the lines: The public acrimony is significant as Dish is highly reliant on T-Mobile for network services over the next several years while it builds out its own 5G network. (Dish expects to launch its first city with its own 5G service this year, but the national roll-out will take time.)

Our thought bubble: Given Dish's reliance on T-Mobile, it's reasonable to think that a public spat was not its first course of action, and that Dish has gone to regulators only after failing to convince T-Mobile to change its timing on the network shutdown.

Meanwhile: In the letter, Dish also accuses T-Mobile of flip-flopping on other spectrum issues. Where T-Mobile previously pushed for policies encouraging smaller competitors, Dish says T-Mobile is now adopting the same tactics as AT&T and Verizon.

  • "During its earlier life as the 'Un-Carrier,' T-Mobile championed policies that promoted competition, diverse spectrum ownership, and efficient spectrum use. How quickly things change," Dish says in its letter. "Now, T- Mobile opposes measures that would help new entrants and smaller providers compete."

Read the full letter.

Go deeper

House passes $768 billion defense spending bill

Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The House approved a $768 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the 2022 fiscal year in a bipartisan 316-113 vote on Thursday.

Why it matters: The annual bill, which authorizes Pentagon spending levels and guides policy for the department, would require women to register for the military draft, among other provisions.

6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Republicans’ secret lobbying

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

The five Senate Republicans who helped negotiate and draft the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill have been privately courting their Republican colleagues to pass the measure in the House.

Why it matters: House GOP leaders are actively urging their members to oppose the bill. The senators are working to undercut that effort as Monday shapes up as a do-or-die moment for the bipartisan bill.

CBC members nix border visit

A Haitian migrant carries a toddler on his shoulders today as he crosses the Rio Grande River. Photo: Pedro Pardo/AFP via Getty Images

Several members of the Congressional Black Caucus weighed visiting the U.S.-Mexico border this week to investigate the conditions faced by Haitian migrants and protest allegations of inhumane treatment by U.S. agents.

Why it matters: It's a thorny proposition both in terms of timing and messaging. Going assures a new wave of negative headlines for President Biden amid sinking popularity. And with congressional deadlines in the coming days over infrastructure, a possible government shutdown and debt-limit crisis, Democrats can't afford to lose any votes in the House.

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