Dish has reportedly struck a deal with T-Mobile, to divest some of its spectrum and Boost Mobile to the satellite provider, in order for the Justice Department to approve of its merger with Sprint.
The Justice Department still needs to sign off on this deal, before it can be approved, and before the merger with Sprint can be approved.
However, it does look like the deal hits all of the right notes for the Justice Department to approve both.
This report comes out of CNBC, who does have a pretty good track record with telecommunications reports. They are citing someone “familiar with the matter”.
The main thing that the Justice Department still needs to decide on here, is whether Dish would represent meaningful competition to T-Mobile, Verizon and AT&T, following the $26 billion merger between T-Mobile and Sprint.
Dish already has been stockpiling spectrum from different spectrum auctions over the past decade. So if there is a company that could become a meaningful competitor to the existing wireless carriers, Dish would be the one. T-Mobile and Sprint have already agreed to sell Boost Mobile to get this deal done, and the DOJ also wants it to sell some of its spectrum.
The spectrum portion of that has been an issue for T-Mobile, which wants to limit Dish’s spectrum capacity to around 12.5-percent. Meanwhile, Deutsche Telekom (T-Mobile’s parent company) wants to limit any strategic Dish investor to 5-percent.
This is basically to make sure that T-Mobile and Deutsche Telekom aren’t spending $26 billion to be left in the same spot they are in now. Which is a very distant third place from Verizon and AT&T. The whole reason for the two to merge, was to be able to better compete with Verizon and AT&T, both of which are nearly three times the size of T-Mobile now, and even as a combined company with Sprint, it would still be much smaller than those two.
After this report came out, all three stocks started to rally, with T-Mobile jumping one percent, Sprint up 4.6-percent and Dish up 2.1-percent. Obviously showing that investors are happy about this news, even if the DOJ has yet to sign off on it.
The Justice Department has had a few things that it wants done before it can approve this merger between T-Mobile and Sprint. One of those things was to make a fourth, viable, wireless carrier. Which is the whole point of selling spectrum to Dish as well as selling Boost Mobile. Dish seems like the perfect buyer, since it already has a ton of spectrum that it desperately needs to start deploying, before the FCC starts fining them. And it has been wanting to get into the wireless industry for many years. It also wouldn’t be as big of a threat to T-Mobile as Amazon would be.
T-Mobile announced its merger with Sprint last April (that’d be in 2018). It’s been a pretty long road for the two companies, but it only has one obstacle left before it is approved. Which is the Justice Department.