- Google denies reports of talks with Dish to buy mobile assets
- Dish has been linked to bid for some of T-Mobile US’s assets
- T-Mobile may sell Boost to push through merger with Sprint
Google has denied reports that it is in talks with Dish Network to create a fourth mobile carrier in the US by buying up assets from T-Mobile.
Dish has long been linked with a deal to buy Boost Mobile and additional spectrum from T-Mobile in order to facilitate the Deutsche Telekom-owned operator’s $26 billion merger with Sprint.
According to a report from the New York Post, Google-parent Alphabet has entered discussions with Dish about creating a fourth US telecom player. Sources told the Post that former Ford Motor CEO Alan Mulally, who is currently a director at Alphabet, has been leading the talks.
A spokesperson for Google has denied the report, telling 9to5Google that the speculation is “simply false”, though they declined to comment on whether Mulally had held discussions with Dish.
“Google is not having any conversations with Dish about creating a wireless network,” the spokesperson said.
Google, of course, has made moves in the telecoms space before, having launched fibre-to-the-home initiative Google Fiber in a number of US states, in 2010. It also has an MVNO project called Google Fi, which was announced in 2015, with support for Sprint and T-Mobile. Fi automatically switches between networks depending on signal strength and speed.
T-Mobile has been looking to sell of assets in order to push through its merger with SoftBank-owned Sprint – a deal that would combine the third and fourth biggest mobile operators in the US in order to compete with AT&T and Verizon.
This merger has met with some opposition, with reports claiming the government had reservations about the fact that the deal would reduce the number of network operators in the US from four to three.
The Federal Communications Commission has rubber-stamped the deal, but the Department of Justice is seeking to exert further conditions – including the sale of MVNO Boost. Selling assets to help facilitate the creation of a fourth operator could help push the merger through.
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One stumbling block to any Google/Dish deal would be Deutsche Telekom’s reported reluctance to facilitate Google’s entry into the mobile operator space, the Post report claims.
New York Post sources claimed that DT has tried to interfere in any potential tie-up by insisting that it will only sell the assets to Dish if the broadcasting company promises not to sell more than 5% stake in itself to a third party.
A move into mobile could make sense for Dish, given that it already holds significant spectrum assets having built up its holding over several years. In 2017, the firm spent $6.2 billion on spectrum in the 600MHz band.
In a tweet earlier this year, T-Mobile CEO John Legere criticised Dish for allegedly having “warehoused $11 billion of spectrum for years and missed every build deadline.” Legere’s company also wrote to the FCC’s chief of Wireless Telecommunications Bureau Donald Stockdale claiming the regulator should reallocate Dish’s spectrum.