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AH Primetime: Dish Network & T-Mobile, A Match Made in Heaven?

June 4, 2015 - Written By John Anon

Dish Network and T-Mobile have been in the headlines quite a lot today. In fact, both companies have been hitting the headlines constantly for a long time, and especially when they hit the same headlines. This is because the two have almost continuously been linked together. That is, without either party actually making their intentions clear. Instead, they have both been rather coy when it comes to the possibility of a shared future while everyone else looks on with a ‘will they, won’t they’ mentality. Similar to how two singletons who have been brought together on a blind date, both have made eyes at one another and both have thrown each other the odd compliment here and there. As such, and although the rumors of the two keep resonating throughout the wireless industry, maybe the matching of the two companies is not so much of a ‘destined’ one, as we would all like to think. In fact, it could be argued, quite easily, that this is more about two companies coming together for more functional reasons.

There can be little denying the inroads T-Mobile have been making of late. Under the watchful eye of John Legere, T-Mobile have established themselves as the un-carrier, the one who will do things differently and have done well with this approach by establishing themselves as a non-establishment type of business. In stark contrast to the dated and corporate picture that T-Mobile seems to often paint of AT&T and Verizon. That said, and for all their efforts, they trail the two wireless giants by some margin. This is in spite of T-Mobile seeming to lead the way when it comes to quarterly results and number of new subscribers. Therefore, it could be said that T-Mobile could and might be reaching a ceiling of sorts. They need something to help push that barrier further higher and facilitate the next step in their evolution.

Likewise, Dish is in a predicament of its own. The company has been seeing somewhat of a decline in recent times (as has their particular angle of the industry in general) and are in need of a momentum shift. As such, Dish has recently been noted buying up buckets and buckets of spectrum. In fact, so much so, that they literally are unsure of what to do with it all. Of course, buying spectrum is not an issue for them, as these wireless licenses are likely to maintain their value if not increase more over time. So from Dish’s perspective, stockpiling is a smart investment plan. But in the meantime and unless they have an end-goal of selling soon, what are they to do with such hoardings? This is on top of what has seemed to be a continuous desire by Dish to enter the wireless race. The company has been known to have wanted to make such a move for a long time, but all their previous attempts have constantly come up short.

Taking these aspects into consideration, it would seem that the two companies are ideal for each other and thanks to their contrasting situations. Both have weaknesses that the other can prop up while both have a desire to push forward (T-Mobile) and move sideways (Dish). If the ‘opposites attract’ rule proves correct, then it would seem Dish and T-Mobile are prime candidates to emphasize this rule. That said, they do have one common denominator which does also play into the continuous rumors surrounding the two. That is, they both seem somewhat over-eager to partner up with someone. Both have been around the rumor block many times with reported mergers, buyouts and selling, although neither have seemed to find the right partner. In fact, they have even crossed partner paths occasionally, with the most notable being Dish trying to acquire Sprint while T-Mobile trying to be acquired by Sprint. Therefore, the two coming together, although on the face of it, might seem like destiny, might be much closer to a more simple truth – neither are sure what the next stage is for them independently, but together, they can fill in the gaps where the other lacks. Whether this is a recipe for a match made in heaven certainly remains to be seen.

That said and even with their joining of forces, it seems unlikely that they will be able to take on the likes of AT&T and Verizon without further investment and a clear shared vision which at the moment might not be anywhere in sight. Although, one sector of the market who will probably be quite happy with such a matching is the powers-that-be, the regulators, as with each coming from their own industry and filling in where the other lacks, the two together may offer the wireless industry as a whole, a much more all-round competitor to take on the industry giants. Therefore, creating a more competitive and consumer-focused environment for everyone.