Dish Network reportedly is nearing a deal to pay $6 billion for T-Mobile and Sprint assets, including spectrum and wireless prepaid brand Boost Mobile, according to Bloomberg.
A deal announcement could come as early as this week, but an agreement hadn’t been finalized as of Tuesday, sources told the news outlet.
News of the $6 billion price tag follows reports last week that pegged Dish as the current front-runner in the race to purchase assets that must be sold off in order for the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to sign off on T-Mobile and Sprint’s $26.5 billion merger. Other buyers reportedly interested in the assets include cable operators Altice USA and Charter Communications.
While Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai last month blessed the merger following commitments from T-Mobile and Sprint to divest Boost Mobile, the DOJ is still concerned over the harm to competition by eliminating a fourth national carrier.
Citing unnamed sources, The Wall Street Journal reported the Justice Department wants any potential buyer to keep spectrum and prepaid subscriber assets together to create a viable fourth wireless provider that could compete on a national basis.
Dish already sits on spectrum assets it paid billions to purchase over the years, but the satellite TV provider is required to hit deadlines to put the airwaves to use, or risk losing its licenses. Dish has planned an narrowband IoT (NB-IoT) network, which executives said earlier this year was on track to meet the FCC’s March 2020 build-out deadline. Dish is also working on a limited 5G network.
Now a potential suitor for Sprint and T-Mobile assets, Dish is also already a member of opposition group 4Competition Coalition that has been aggressive in efforts to stop the merger from happening.
Some states also have joined together against the merger. Last week, a group of 10 state attorneys general, including those representing New York and California, filed a lawsuit to block the $26.5 billion deal, citing harm to competition and consumers.
This week, attorneys general in both Delaware and Nebraska each filed letters with the FCC, opening probes into the T-Mobile-Sprint merger.