Jul 24, 2019

Dish Network spectrum deal looks to lock in T-Mobile-Sprint merger

Expectations are that a deal between Sprint, T-Mobile and Dish Network will be announced within the next 48 hours, whereby Dish would pay around $3.5 billion for wireless spectrum from the two carriers to push through their merger.

Why it matters: In addition to America's mobile market no longer consolidating from four major national carriers to three, this could embolden top U.S. antitrust regulator Makan Delrahim, who looked to be on his heels after being handed his legal hat on the AT&T/Time Warner deal. This comes just as the Justice Department confirmed that it will launch an investigation into the power and behavior of online platforms.

  • Dish also would pay around $1.5 billion for a prepaid mobile business that the merging companies agreed to divest as part of an earlier FCC agreement, and pledge to hold all the acquired assets for at least three years.
  • There had been talk that Amazon had interest in the prepaid business. In general, Amazon just seems to have a tire-kicking fetish.

By the numbers: T-Mobile executives spent $195,000 at the Trump International Hotel after the company agreed to buy Sprint for $26 billion, as disclosed this past March — but DOJ was unswayed by all of those suite stays, let alone the companies' PR strategy of talking up Trump-bait like job growth and 5G leadership.

Between the lines: Elon Musk must be ready to take a flame-thrower to SEC social media regulators, given how John Legere appears to have skated for his misleading — and still available — tweet about DOJ objection to the original deal structure.

Go deeper: 5G is off to a slow start

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DOJ approves T-Mobile-Sprint deal with conditions

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The Department of Justice has approved T-Mobile's deal to acquire Sprint, requiring the companies to divest some assets that Dish Networks can use to build a new fourth national U.S. wireless network.

Why it matters: T-Mobile and Sprint have argued that a combination of their resources will help them compete with market leaders Verizon and AT&T. Opponents of the deal argued that it will reduce competition.

Go deeperArrowJul 26, 2019

DOJ ready to break silence on T-Mobile's Sprint deal

T-Mobile CEO John Legere, left. with Sprint Executive Chairman Marcelo Claure. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Justice Department has called an 11 am ET press conference on Friday, with antitrust chief Makan Delrahim set to "announce a significant merger enforcement action." The agency has reportedly been pushing Sprint and T-Mobile to divest enough assets to create a viable fourth national wireless carrier in order to secure approval for the $26 billion merger.

Why it matters: According to the Wall Street Journal, The DOJ has also been working to convince a number of state attorneys general, who have sued to block the deal, to approve the transaction with the new conditions.

Go deeperArrowJul 26, 2019

Doubts over Dish's strength as a fourth wireless player

Photo: Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

In order to win Justice Department approval for their deal, Sprint and T-Mobile appear poised to sell spectrum and prepaid customers to Dish Network for a reported $5 billion.

Why it matters: Regulators in the past have blocked any deal that would have eliminated one of the current Big 4 mobile networks. An asset sale allows them to claim, at least on paper, that there will still be four players. But analysts have their doubts just how big a player Dish would be.

Go deeperArrowJul 25, 2019