Dish appoints Stephen Stokols to lead Boost Mobile

Dish's wireless efforts are slowly getting off the ground.

Eli Blumenthal Senior Editor
Eli Blumenthal is a senior editor at CNET with a particular focus on covering the latest in the ever-changing worlds of telecom, streaming and sports. He previously worked as a technology reporter at USA Today.
Expertise 5G | Mobile networks | Wireless carriers | Phones | Tablets | Streaming devices | Streaming platforms | Mobile | Console gaming
Eli Blumenthal
2 min read

Boost is getting a new boss. 

Boost Mobile

Dish may not have made many major moves since acquiring Boost Mobile from T-Mobile and Sprint earlier this year, but that may change as the calendar turns towards 2021. 

On Tuesday the carrier publicly named Stephen Stokols, the former founder of wireless venture FreedomPop , to be Boost Mobile's new executive vice president. Stokols will report to John Swieringa, who oversees Dish's retail wireless operations and is also the company's chief operating officer. 

Stokols sold FreedomPop, which used Sprint's network to sell wireless service (or what is known as a mobile virtual network operator or MVNO), last year to Red Pocket Mobile. The move was designed to allow Stokols to make a play for Boost Mobile with some private equity groups, adding a bit of irony to his appointment as head of the company that Dish now owns. 

That Dish bought Boost Mobile makes the top position of the wireless company "far more attractive" to Stokols, who told CNET that Dish's plan isn't just to run Boost Mobile as an MVNO riding on T-Mobile's network but eventually as a company that plans to build out and use its own wireless network. 

Dish has spent years and billions of dollars acquiring spectrum, the airwaves needed to offer wireless phone and data services. As part of the Department of Justice's deal between Dish, T-Mobile and Sprint to allow the T-Mobile/Sprint merger to go through, Dish gets to use T-Mobile's network for seven years while it builds out its own wireless service. 

Watch this: T-Mobile and Sprint merger: What it means for you

"Over the next couple of years you'll see Boost go from an MVNO to an actual carrier," Stokols said, though he wouldn't go into details on when or where Dish might start turning on its own 5G cities. Dish co-founder Charlie Ergen told a Manhattan federal court last December that the company planned to turn on its first 5G city in 2020, though the company has yet to provide a public update as to whether that plan is still on schedule. 

When Dish acquired Boost it had around 9 million subscribers, with the company since acquiring fellow MVNO Ting Mobile in August. Even with Ting, it remains a very distant rival to the big three US carriers or Verizon , T-Mobile and AT&T

Although Dish and Boost have been largely quiet with news in recent months (with the notable exception being the Ting purchase), Stokols says the company is now going to be much more active as the end of the year approaches. 

"The idea here is to move fast," Stokols said, adding that by mid-October the company plans to introduce some new plans with more news coming to before the holidays. "This is 'let's hit the ground running.'" 

Correction, Sept. 22: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Stokols is the CEO of Boost Mobile. He is its executive vice president.