• DISH strikes $5bn deal for Sprint/T-Mobile assets
  • DoJ approves mobile mega-merger after DISH deal announced
  • Sprint’s & T-Mobile’s long-running merger saga nearing completion

DISH Network has reached a deal with Sprint to buy the mobile operator’s pre-paid businesses in the US, paving the way for Sprint to complete its merger with T-Mobile.

DISH satellite credit Jonathan Weiss shutterstock

DISH to become mobile operator in $5bn deal

The US Department of Justice has rubber-stamped the long-running T-Mobile and Sprint merger following the announcement of Sprint’s deal with DISH.

The deal with DISH will see the broadcast company buy Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile, while it will also take on Sprint’s 800MHz spectrum assets. The deal also means that DISH’s wireless customers will have access to the combined T-Mobile network for seven years.

DISH will also have an option to take on leases for certain cell sites and retail locations that are decommissioned by the New T-Mobile, the combined T-Mobile/Sprint said in a statement.

The deal also includes an agreement to enter negotiations for T-Mobile to lease some or all of DISH’s 600MHz spectrum.

The T-Mobile/Sprint merger will see the forming of a third major carrier in the US in order to compete with AT&T and Verizon. By selling assets to DISH, it means the market will stay with four major facilities-based mobile operators.

DISH said that to facilitate the deal, it has committed to deploy a 5G broadband network capable of serving 70% of the U.S. population by June 2023.

“These developments are the fulfillment of more than two decades’ worth of work and more than $21 billion in spectrum investments intended to transform DISH into a connectivity company,” said DISH co-founder and chairman Charlie Ergen. “Taken together, these opportunities will set the stage for our entry as the nation’s fourth facilities-based wireless competitor and accelerate our work to launch the country’s first standalone 5G broadband network.”

The assets are valued at around $5 billion, with $1.4 billion of that for the prepaid units and the rest for the 14MHz of 800MHz spectrum. The deal will complete once T-Mobile’s merger with Sprint finalises.

“We’ve been here before,” said Ergen. “When we entered pay-TV with the launch of our first satellite in 1995, we faced entrenched cable monopolies, and our direct competitor was owned by one of the largest industrial corporations in the world. As a new entrant, DISH encountered many skeptics who questioned our ability to succeed. But, customers loved the disruption we brought to the marketplace with innovations such as a 100-percent digital experience, local-into-local broadcast, the DVR and ad-skipping.

“Our substantial investments, constant innovation, aggressive pricing and commitment to the customer led us to become the third largest pay-TV provider. As we enter the wireless business, we will again serve customers by disrupting incumbents and their legacy networks, this time with the nation’s first standalone 5G broadband network.”

For Deutsche Telekom-owned T-Mobile and SoftBank-owned Sprint, it brings the long-running merger saga a step closer to completion. The FCC and DoJ are both required to approve the deal before it can move forward, but FCC chairman Ajit Pai has already said he plans to approve the deal.

“The T-Mobile and Sprint merger we announced last April will create a bigger and bolder competitor than ever before – one that will deliver the most transformative 5G network in the country, lower prices, better quality, unmatched value and thousands of jobs, while unlocking an unprecedented $43B net present value in synergies. We are pleased that our previously announced target synergies, profitability and long-term cash generation have not changed,” said T-Mobile CEO and New T-Mobile CEO John Legere.

“Our goal was to ensure that the DOJ’s concerns were addressed while enabling us to deliver on every aspect of the synergies we promised to unlock… and we did it. It may have taken longer than expected by some, but today’s results are a win-win for everyone involved. We cannot wait to get to work bringing this pro-consumer, pro-competition New T-Mobile 5G network to U.S. customers from coast to coast!”