T-Mobile-Sprint deal might hinge on Dish (Update: Google could be involved too)

t-mobile and sprint logos side by side

Update, July 8, 2019 (11:15 AM ET): According to a new report from The NY Post, Google could be in talks with Dish when it comes to creating the supposed fourth carrier described in the article below.

According to “sources close to the situation,” Alphabet director Alan Mulally is in talks with Dish for the companies to work together in creating a new carrier in the U.S. built off spectrum that would be purchased from T-Mobile and Sprint. This purchase could help get the T-Mobile-Sprint merger approved.

Google says the report is “completely false,” but also would not confirm or deny that Mulally was meeting with Dish.

Google already has its own wireless service provider known as Google Fi. However, Fi is an MVNO, which means it does not own any of its own spectrum or network towers. If Google and Dish were to join forces to create a new carrier with its own spectrum (and possibly leased spectrum to help fill in the gaps), it could create an interesting competitor in the wireless space.


Original article, June 18, 2019 (04:57 PM ET): In a potentially exciting new development, rumors suggest that Dish might buy spectrum and assets from T-Mobile and Sprint to the tune of $6 billion. If true, this sale could save the proposed T-Mobile-Sprint merger.

Last we heard, the approval of the merger hinged on the Justice Department’s concerns that the reduction of four carriers down to three would cause too many problems for consumers in the long run. If Dish buys some of the companies’ spectrum — as well as the Sprint-owned Boost Mobile — that could be enough to appease the DOJ and seal the deal.

According to Bloomberg, Dish is very close to finalizing negotiations surrounding such an agreement.

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If this information is legitimate and the Dish deal actually comes to pass, it would create a new wireless carrier in the United States. The carrier likely wouldn’t be as large as either T-Mobile or Sprint right now and would certainly be smaller than the eventual T-Mobile-Sprint hybrid.

Interestingly, this would keep four major wireless carriers competing in the industry, but three of them would far outmatch the fourth. Right now, the top two wireless providers (Verizon and AT&T) are far larger than the other two (T-Mobile and Sprint). In the future, we could see three major carriers on relatively equal footing (Verizon, AT&T, and the new T-Mobile) and a fourth, much smaller player (the proposed Dish carrier) picking up their scraps.

It’s not clear how the DOJ thinks this will be more of a benefit for consumers over just three big carriers on equal footing, but that’s what it seems to be pushing for.

As of right now, T-Mobile, Sprint, and Dish are not issuing any comments on the alleged deal. However, we could know what’s going on by the end of this week, as rumors point to big announcements coming soon.

NEXT: What would the T-Mobile-Sprint merger mean for you?

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