Now that AT&T's bid to acquire DirecTV is official, and the FCC's rules for the spectrum screen and the 600 MHz auction are finalized, the merger-and-acquisition landscape in the wireless industry is now much, much clearer. Specifically, the proposed merger between Sprint and T-Mobile US appears significantly more daunting, and a Verizon purchase of Dish Network's spectrum appears somewhat more likely.
AT&T's announcement that it will buy DirecTV in a $49 billion deal leaves Dish Network once again without a potential partner or suitor. However, analysts say the deal could be what pushes Dish and its Chairman Charlie Ergen to find a long-term wireless partner.
AT&T Mobility said it plans to purchase between 20 MHz and 40 MHz of spectrum in the FCC's 600 MHz incentive auction of broadcast TV spectrum, set for next year, if the auction entices enough broadcasters to participate. However, Verizon Wireless said only that the FCC has made "progress" on the rules for the auction, comments likely reflecting the carrier's displeasure with auction rules designed to limit the amount of 600 MHz spectrum AT&T and Verizon can acquire during the auction.
Dish Network and Sprint wholesale partner nTelos Wireless are close to launching a trial network for fixed wireless TD-LTE service. The companies hope to add commercial users to the network in July, later than they initially expected when the plans for the trials were first unveiled last fall.
Bankrupt wireless firm LightSquared and Dish Network Chairman Charlie Ergen face court-ordered mediation if they can't figure out their differences over LightSquared's restructuring, a federal bankruptcy court judge ruled.
Dish Network Chairman Charlie Ergen reiterated his decision not to get into a bidding war with Sprint over T-Mobile US, but indicated that he would be ready to move if Sprint tried to make a bid for T-Mobile and failed.
Competitive Carriers Association President Steve Berry said he is confident that next year's incentive auction of 600 MHz broadcast spectrum will draw wide participation from smaller carriers and that the auction will be successful.
SoftBank CEO Masayashi Son, in a Washington tour in March, implied that one of his key goals for Sprint is to become a competitive alternative in broadband, not just wireless. DISH's efforts to enter the mobile space are also predicated on using wireless as a way of offering some form of home broadband service--a key missing link in its residential offerings.
Spectrum controlled by Sprint represents the bulk of the airwaves the FCC is expected to add to its so-called spectrum screen, potentially inhibiting any deal between Sprint and T-Mobile US.
In a blow to Sprint and Dish Network, the FCC plans to add much of their respective spectrum portfolios to its so-called spectrum screen, which will bring more scrutiny to any future spectrum transaction they engage in.