Recently it’s hard to read an article about DISH Network without the phrase “wireless carrier” coming up. For those who have not been following the wireless industry closely, this might seem a bit confusing. It’s led to a lot of people asking: Is DISH a wireless carrier now? No, they are not, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t be soon.
That’s a bit of a cryptic answer, we know. The truth is the future of DISH Network is very much up in the air right now. Not for any bad reasons, but because DISH Network actually has a lot of options at the moment because of the state of the T-Mobile and Sprint megamerger. Let’s take a moment to take a brief look at the bigger picture as it stands in July 2019.
Sprint and T-Mobile have attempted to merge companies, however, a merger of that size requires approval by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) before it becomes official because it would bring the field of wireless providers down to three. That would become an infringement on safeguards that are in place to prevent monopolies from forming. If that’s the case, the DOJ has made it clear that they are unlikely to approve the merger.
In an effort to get the merger approved, T-Mobile is looking to offload enough of its wireless assets that a third party could then create their own wireless carrier. Who is that third party going to be? Experts are putting their money on DISH Network.
It makes sense, DISH already owns upwards of $20 billion worth of spectrum, which they need to turn into something viable before the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) 2020 deadline. That spectrum combined with T-Mobile wireless assets would allow DISH to become a viable wireless carrier almost overnight. That in turn would satisfy the DOJ, and allow the Spring and T-Mobile merger to go through.
Not only that, but Barron’s recently reported that DISH secured $10 billion in financing specifically to buy wireless assets. Which wireless assets are they looking to buy? T-Mobile’s Boost Wireless seems like the clear choice.
Of course, even if DISH does decide to spend several billion dollars on those assets, that does not guarantee that the Sprint and T-Mobile merger will go through. Once they have DOJ approval they also have to beat the 20 or so states that have formally filed lawsuits attempting to block the merger.
So no, DISH Network is not a wireless carrier…yet. If they buy these Boost Mobile assets from T-Mobile, they will be. It seems to be the best path forward for DISH if they can negotiate a reasonable purchasing price from T-Mobile.