Dish Network is set to acquire the Boost wireless business from T-Mobile US after the companies spent months hammering out the specifics of a deal reached in 2019. T-Mobile was required to offload Boost, a pay-as-you-go wireless service, as part of its acquisition of Sprint -- a deal that turned it into the No. 2 carrier in the US, based on monthly subscribers. Dish is expected to pay about $1.4 billion for Boost.
A T-Mobile US service outage, which kept thousands of customers from making calls or using data on June 15, will be investigated by the Federal Communications Commission. “The T-Mobile network outage is unacceptable,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said, adding that the FCC would launch a probe into the matter.
About $20 billion worth of wireless airwaves are sitting dormant, public goods whose rights were acquired by Dish, in government auctions over the past decade. Put to use, they could create more competition and supply millions more high-speed connections. To finally unleash those airwaves, the government is being asked to place more trust than ever in Dish and its owner, billionaire Charlie Ergen. Dish is on track to get even more airwaves and other assets in 2019, this time as part of a side deal to T-Mobile’s purchase of Sprint.
Apparently, top Justice Department officials want T-Mobile US and Sprint to lay the groundwork for a new wireless carrier -- with its own network -- as a condition to clearing their $26.5 billion merger. But the idea of spinning off a full-fledged national competitor would be a high bar for T-Mobile and Sprint to meet. T-Mobile and Sprint, the two smallest national wireless carriers, have to weigh whether the remedies offered to gain approval are too onerous.
Apparently, T-Mobile and Sprint, fighting to win regulatory clearance for their $26.5-billion merger, are considering possible concessions to salvage the deal. Among the top options being discussed is the separation and potential sale of their “prepaid” businesses.
Sprint is unable to recover from crippling losses and has told regulators its purchase by T-Mobile would set up a stronger competitor to wireless leaders AT&T and Verizon. Customers are fleeing the smallest of the big four US nationwide providers at an increasing rate, Sprint told the Federal Communications Commission in a Sept. 21 meeting. Revenue is dropping and the company can’t cut much more after eliminating about $10 billion in annual costs.
Justice Department Antitrust Chief Makan Delrahim, who is leading a review of the proposed $26.5 billion merger of T-Mobile US with Sprint, says the elimination of one major competitor in wireless service isn’t necessarily a deal killer. The law and market economics will be the crucial factors, Delrahim said. “I don’t think there’s any magical number that I’m smart enough to glean about any single market,” he said.
T-Mobile’s John Legere and Sprint’s Marcelo Claure met with Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai to sell their $26.5 billion deal. Legere and Claure also met with FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr.
A Google-led plan to overhaul how valuable airwaves are used for calls and texts is gaining momentum across the wireless industry, giving the company the chance to play a central role in networks of the future. Citizens Broadband Radio Service, or CBRS, is a fat slice of the US airwaves being freed from the military’s exclusive control. Instead of just zipping messages between aircraft carriers and fighter jets, the spectrum will be shared by the Navy, wireless carriers like Verizon, cable companies including Comcast, and even hospitals, refineries, and sports stadiums.