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Dish Divestiture Deal Might Save the T-Mobile, Sprint Merger

Mike Dano

The proposed merger of Sprint and T-Mobile is now officially behind schedule, considering the companies last year promised that the transaction would close "no later than the first half of 2019." But, according to a new report this morning, Dish Network might swoop in to save the day.

CNBC reported this morning, citing unnamed sources, that T-Mobile and Dish had agreed on a "divestiture deal." The network did not provide any further details about the terms of the deal, other than to say that T-Mobile hopes to limit wholesale capacity to 12.5% and T-Mobile owner Deutsche Telekom wants to keep Dish's investment at 5%. CNBC noted that the Department of Justice hasn't signed off on the reported agreement between T-Mobile and Dish.

CNBC reported that Dish and T-Mobile hope to finalize their reported transaction next week.

The report follows rumors last month that Dish was closing in on a $6 billion deal for T-Mobile and Sprint assets that would include Sprint's Boost prepaid unit and a swath of wireless spectrum.

Although the FCC's chairman signed off on the proposed merger between Sprint and T-Mobile with a handful of mostly minor conditions and divestitures in May, the DoJ hasn't publicly issued its decision on the transaction yet. Reports indicate DoJ staff have moved against the deal considering it would reduce the number of wireless providers in the US from four to three, but that DoJ antitrust chief Makan Delrahim is holding out for some transaction that retains a fourth nationwide wireless competitor. A deal between T-Mobile and Dish could well satisfy those DoJ concerns, given that Dish has already promised to use its vast spectrum holdings for a 5G network.

Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading | @mikeddano

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