After months of speculation, it is now official that DISH Network will replace Sprint as the fourth major wireless carrier in the United States. This also means that the mega-merger between Sprint and T-Mobile is finally ready to move forward with the approval of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).
The DOJ made it clear that they would not approve the merger between Sprint and T-Mobile if it meant that the number of major wireless carriers in the U.S. dropped to three. Now, DISH Network will purchase all of Sprint’s prepaid business and customers, a portion of Sprint’s 800MHz spectrum, and have access to T-Mobile’s network for seven years. All of this in addition to the $26 billion worth of spectrum that DISH already owned puts the company in a position to become a major wireless player almost overnight.
“These developments are the fulfillment of more than two decades’ worth of work and more than $21 billion in spectrum investments intended to transform Dish into a connectivity company,” DISH CEO Charlie Ergen said in a press release. “Taken together, these opportunities will set the stage for our entry as the nation’s fourth facilities-based wireless competitor and accelerate our work to launch the country’s first standalone 5G broadband network.”
The long-term plan is for DISH to build its own infrastructure to host its wireless network. Of course, doing that takes an incredible amount of time and effort. That’s why DISH made sure to include a clause in their purchase contract that gives them access T-Mobile’s network for the next seven years. DISH will also have the option to take over any cell towers, network equipment and retail space that is decommissioned as a result of the merger.
What does this mean for DISH Network’s satellite offerings? Time will tell, but this will help the company pivot from the struggling broadcasting space to the growing wireless one, which is a good thing for DISH.