T-Mobile’s Love/Hate Relationship with Dish Network

by Matt Klassen on February 20, 2015

Say what you will about charismatic T-Mobile CEO John Legere, in a marketplace where everyone is guarded about everything it’s refreshing to hear someone actually tell things like they are, to be open and honest about the state of the industry and what needs to change; a welcome alternative to the constant stream of denials and ‘no comment’ we usually get on a regular basis.

So when most companies would remain tight-lipped about possible mergers and acquisitions, lest they perhaps tip their hand too early, this week Legere was open and honest about his thoughts on a possible merger with Dish Network.

“We look at their spectrum portfolio, and video, as a fascinating idea to consider,” Legere said during T-Mobile’s fourth-quarter conference call Thursday, addressing the persistent rumours that Dish may be looking to acquire or partner with T-Mobile. “I think Dish offers a great opportunity for the country and possibly T-Mobile.”

Of course what makes this all the more interesting is Legere’s intrigue regarding a possible partnership with Dish Network came at the very same time he decried the aforementioned Dish Network’s participation in the Federal Communications Commission’s recent spectrum auction, calling that auction a “disaster” for consumers because companies like Dish who are not wireless service providers were allowed to participate. Sounds like the beginnings of a beautiful relationship.

In a blog post Wednesday, Legere went public with his frustration with the FCC’s recent spectrum auction, noting that the fact that AT&T and Verizon were able to accumulate more spectrum resources and that Dish Network, not even a wireless service provider, was able to add to its own sizeable stash of unused spectrum would mean a less competition, less growth, and less options for consumers.

“AT&T and Verizon showed that they can, and will, dig into their deep pockets to corner the market on available spectrum at nearly any cost,” Legere wrote. “To add insult to injury, the FCC’s rules actually allowed companies that don’t provide wireless service at all to buy up huge amounts of spectrum and sit on it for 10 years!” [Italics mine]

Again, the interesting thing is not that Legere was frustrated about the spectrum auction, one where T-Mobile clearly came out on the losing end, but that a day later he seemed downright delighted about the prospect of perhaps partnering with the dastardly Dish Network, a company who has long sought a perch in the wireless industry. “We like what they’re doing,” Legere said of Dish in a recent interview. “It makes sense to have a discussion.”

Regarding the possibility of a merger or partnership between T-Mobile and Dish Network, the latter has spent much of the last decade hording spectrum, offering no clear plan on how it plans to implement its resources. Given the fact that there is a mandatory deadline for putting that spectrum to use drawing near, Dish needs to find a way to use what it has purchased, and T-Mobile is clearly hoping that it can tap into that vast treasury of finite wireless resources to continue to grow its brand as Legere furthers his one man quest to reshape the wireless industry.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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