After a failed bid to nab Sprint, DISH appears to have T-Mobile in its acquisition sights, with Reuters sources saying that DISH has already had some discussion with T-Mobile’s majority owner, Deutsche Telekom AG. DISH has spectrum that it wants to use for an LTE network but the best way to make that happen is to either partner with, or acquire an existing mobile operator brand.
When Softbank ended up with Sprint back in June, my colleague Kevin Fitchard noted that T-Mobile was the one of the next likely candidates for DISH to target, explaining how such a deal could help the satellite TV broadcaster. What’s less certain now is how it would help T-Mobile, which has shaken up the mobile landscape by removing device subsidies, eliminating contracts and making excellent progress on its LTE network build-up; all of which are forward progress for the operator.
Assuming DISH moves forward with a T-Mobile bid, I’m not sure where it could turn if such a deal falls through. The company is currently partnering with Sprint — ironically — to bring LTE to homes for broadband service. But that effort doesn’t even use DISH’s spectrum; it’s Sprint that’s providing the link. That leaves DISH with airwaves to use but no carrier or branding partner for an LTE network of its own.