Dish Network is a major part of T-Mobile and Sprint’s merger, with Dish slated to become the fourth major U.S. carrier if T-Mo and Sprint’s deal is completed. According to T-Mobile CEO John Legere, though, T-Mobile almost merged with Dish a few years ago.
While being questioned during the T-Mobile-Sprint merger trial, Legere confirmed that he recommended a merger with Sprint to T-Mobile’s board back in 2015. CNET says that Legere wanted to give Dish’s satellite TV business an “un-carriering” treatment and that Dish’s spectrum was also attractive.
Ultimately, T-Mobile and Dish couldn’t agree on a price for the deal. Legere explained that Dish co-founder Charlie Ergen thought that T-Mobile would “disintegrate” and that its stock would fall below $20 rather than staying around the $25 price that T-Mo’s stock as trading at during deal talks.
Legere was also asked if he would approach Dish about a merger should this new Sprint deal be blocked, he said that he’s not sure what he’d do.
There were rumors about a T-Mobile-Dish circulating in 2015, but this is the first time that we’re getting confirmation that merger talks actually did take place. It does make sense that T-Mobile would be interested in Dish given both Dish’s spectrum portfolio as well as T-Mobile’s recent interest in the TV market. Ergen is said to be a pretty tough negotiator, though, which sounds like it played a part in this T-Mo-Dish deal not happening.
Fast-forward to today and T-Mobile and Dish are working together to get the T-Mo-Sprint merger done. As part of T-Mobile and Dish’s agreement with the DOJ, Dish will purchase all of Sprint’s prepaid businesses as well as Sprint’s portfolio of 800MHz spectrum. T-Mobile and Sprint will provide cell sites and retail locations to Dish and also give Dish “robust access” to T-Mobile’s network for seven years while Dish builds its own 5G network.
A group of 14 state attorneys general have sued to block the T-Mobile-Sprint merger, arguing that it will “substantially lessen competition” in the wireless market and that prices are likely to be higher than they would be without the merger. The trial will continue next week, and Ergen is expected to appear in court, but it’s said that the judge has been pushing for a quick trial.