Dish Network is interested in partnering up with T-Mobile if the carrier’s merger with AT&T fails, pooling assets to boost competitive power and relieve spectrum strain.
Joseph Clayton, CEO of satellite television provider Dish, said in an interview with Bloomberg his company is pursuing a partnership with the Bellevue, Wash.-based wireless carrier, presenting one alternative T-Mobile to pursue if its proposed $39 billion merger with AT&T fails to win Federal Communications Commission approval.
The proposed partnership points to shifting alliances across the industry as major players search for competitive advantages to relieve a spectrum crunch currently afflicting all major carriers and satellite companies.
Dish recently acquired spectrum when it took over the DBSD North American and Terrestar satellite networks earlier this year, giving it access to valuable broadband spectrum. If T-Mobile accepts Dish’s partnership offer, the two companies are expected to merge spectrum assets to compete against the top three U.S. wireless carriers, Verizon, AT&T and Sprint.
Mobile traffic doubled in the past year thanks to increasing smartphone usage, and wireless subscribers are increasingly turning to mobile devices for data-intensive activities such as gaming and streaming entertainment. The resulting spectrum crunch has wireless carriers like T-Mobile scrambling for ways to increase speeds and keep data flowing smoothly.
The spectrum gained from a partner like Dish would allow T-Mobile to expand its 4G network, enabling it to offer wider, faster network coverage and compete against its rivals more successfully as merger prospects with AT&T grow dim.
Any partnership deal T-Mobile decides to enter into will be subject to FCC approval.
For its part, Dish plans to “create a national wireless network, video, voice and data,” Clayton said, and is reportedly looking to partner with a company experienced in voice and data to complement its own satellite broadband offerings.
If the AT&T/T-Mobile merger ultimately succeeds, Dish plans to pursue partnerships with Sprint or another wireless carrier, or a network provider such as Clearwire, according to Clayton. Dish could also buy assets from T-Mobile or AT&T if the two companies divest spectrum or subscribers in an effort to allay regulatory concerns regarding their proposed merger.
As T-Mobile awaits an outcome on its deal with AT&T, the company may well be considering other options for remaining competitive and building its business in coming years. If that is the case, Dish is standing by ready to jump in.
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