A merger between Dish and T-Mobile USA would easily win regulatory approval, unlike a Sprint purchase of T-Mobile, says JP Morgan. A Sprint/T-Mobile merger would leave three major mobile carriers in the U.S., while a Dish/T-Mobile merger would leave four.
The FCC today also gave Dish Network more time to build its 2.1 GHz network. The new waiver gives Dish eight years instead of seven to use some of its spectrum. In return, Dish plans to bid a minimum of $1.56 billion in the upcoming auction of so-called H block frequencies, scheduled for January.
T-Mobile could make a bid for T-Mobile US in the first half of 2014, reports Reuters.
In 2012, Dish purchased 2 slots of the 40 MHz S-band wireless spectrum from the bankrupt MSS satellite phone providers TerreStar and DBSD (ICO) for $2.9 billion.
Dish made a $25B bid for Sprint earlier this year. Sprint, now 80% owned by Japan’s SoftBank, also prevailed over Dish in a takeover battle for Clearwire that ended in June.
Besides 40 MHz in the 2.1 GHz band, Dish owns a slot of 700 MHz airwaves and is one of the 34 contenders to bid for the Jan 2014 auction of PCS H Block. Furthermore, DISH also offered a bid to acquire 40 MHz of wireless spectrum held by LightSquared, which is currently bankrupt. That’s a lot of spectrum.
Sprint and T-Mobile are rumored to be talking about a merger. But the technical and regulatory hurtles would be significant.
Dish has the spectrum – but no where to put it. Traditional carriers may be wary of a sharing their antennas with someone who could undercut them. Conceivably, T-Mobile’s AWS network infrastructure could host Dish’s MSS frequencies.
But Dish is taking no chances. Dish and Sprint are testing Fixed TD-LTE using Clearwire spectrum.
Perhaps Dish will find an internet partner who makes phones.
AT&T plans to deploy some 40,000 small cells next year while Verizon will use LTE small cells from vendors Alcatel-Lucent and Ericsson. Sprint also intends to start deploying small cells on a wider scale next year.
Dish, of course, has some 14 million satellite receivers on rooftops. The ultimate small cell footprint.
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