With Dish Network abandoning its attempt to scoop up Sprint Nextel out from under SoftBank, the question now becomes where will they look next? Dish has made it perfectly clear that it wants to succeed and work in the wireless space, which begs the question about where they go from here? As it stands today, Dish holds 40MHz of 2GHz spectrum and a small portion of 700MHz spectrum. Analysts of course suggest that Dish could reignite its talks with Deutsche Telekom in the hopes of picking up T-Mobile USA. T-Mobile declined to comment to the Wall Street Journal, however with discussions held earlier in the year it’s not completely out of the realm of possibility to think that Dish may want another shot at the fourth-place carrier.
Dish still has other options, including a tie-up with DirecTV, the deal many analysts suspected was the best option from the beginning. However, the two satellite TV giants attempted a merger 10 years ago and failed amidst heavy regulatory pressure. The difference today is that the regulatory landscape looks nothing like it did 10 years ago and regulatory agencies may look more favorably on a deal coming together.
Other alternatives include a purchase by AT&T, a company that has the means and the desire to enter the satellite TV market. However, this is another deal that would be seen as concerning regulators given how much spectrum AT&T already holds.
Which brings us back full-circle to T-Mobile, the largest carrier that looks ripe for purchase. While the terms of the T-Mobile, MetroPCS merger required Deutsche Telekom to stay a part of the joint company for 18 months, there is a loophole that allows them to sell all their shares in one fell swoop. With the knowledge that it’s long been known DT wants to exit the US and focus more on their other international businesses, is this something we can truly rule out?
Dish is looking for a partner, of that we seem certain and perhaps now they are ready to agree to move favorable terms and convince DT they are the best partner moving forward. Time will tell where Charlie Ergen takes his company, but counting Dish out as a possible T-Mobile buyer looks to be preliminary once again.