Earlier this month, it appeared that the DOJ, Deutsche Telekom and T-Mobile were hashing out details of an agreement. Dish would buy Boost and some spectrum from T-Mobile and Sprint, and enter into a six or seven year agreement to use T-Mobile’s network while it was spending billions to build its own. In other words, Dish would be a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) for a few years. This is simply a company that offers wireless service to consumers without actually owning a network of its own.
Talks between T-Mobile and Dish are “halfway there”
Google denies that it is in talks with Dish and released a statement that says, “These claims are simply false. Google is not having any conversations with Dish about creating a wireless network.” Deutsche Telekom has been asking that any deal involving Dish purchasing Boost include a cap preventing a third party from buying more than a 5% stake in the satellite content provider. That’s because the German telecom company is afraid that Dish will make a deal with a large company loaded with cash and build up Boost to the point where it becomes strong competition for a combined T-Mobile-Sprint. Sources say that both Deutsche Telekom and T-Mobile are backing away from that demand after the DOJ and Dish made it clear that they were not happy with that request.
While a deal could give Dish Chairman Charles Ergen the wireless business he has wanted for some time, it also could help Google. The latter currently offers an MVNO of its own, Google Fi, which relies on mobile Wi-Fi hotspots and cellular service from T-Mobile, Sprint and U.S. Cellular. Getting involved in a deal with Dish to buy Boost and building a nationwide 5G network would allow Google Fi to drop the MVNO contracts it has and eventually use its own network. Experts say that should Dish and Google buy Boost, the pair could have their own network up and running in three years.
People close to the talks between Dish and T-Mobile characterize them as being “about halfway there” and say the talks could take another two to three weeks before a deal is reached. T-Mobile and Sprint announced the merger on April 29th, 2018 and originally set a deadline of April 28th, 2019 to close on the merger. Both carriers extended that to July 29th and it appears that another extension will be necessary.