Dish TV chief eyes creating 4th mobile carrier – Fixie News
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Dish TV chief eyes creating 4th mobile carrier

Talks to create a No. 4 US wireless carrier are quickly picking up steam — and Charlie Ergen is poised to run the prospective telecom colossus.

The maverick telecom tycoon who controls Dish Network has lined up roughly $10 billion in financing to create a new telecom giant that would legitimately rival AT&T, Verizon and a combined T-Mobile and Sprint if the latter two merge, The Post has learned.

His first step could be to buy assets from T-Mobile, which the company may be forced to sell in order to get its controversial, $26 billion merger with Sprint cleared by regulators, sources said.

T-Mobile, led by CEO John Legere, in recent days has been in frenzied discussions with Dish, as well as Altice USA and Charter Communications, about selling assets that would enable the creation of a fourth US mobile network, sources said.

Among the three bidders for T-Mobile assets, Dish appears to be the clear leader, according to sources. The Colorado-based satellite-TV giant likely wants to buy towers and equipment from T-Mobile, the sources said.

“He’s lined up a lot of banks,” a source who spoke with Ergen said.

John Legere
John LegereAP

In addition to the financing it has secured, Dish already owns more than $10 billion worth of unused wireless spectrum. Whether he acquires the assets and infrastructure he needs from T-Mobile or from somewhere else, Ergen is planning to build a new US wireless network, sources said.

Ergen has a unique incentive to pull off the ambitious gambit. After stockpiling spectrum he has amassed through a series of auctions by the US government, Ergen must start deploying it by March 2020 or he will have to return the spectrum to Uncle Sam.

Ergen also has spoken to tech companies about teaming up, sources said. There are rumors Apple might back Ergen. Also, as The Post reported exclusively in 2013, Ergen has spoken to Google about running a wireless network together.

Dish has told regulators it objects to the T-Mobile merger, Dish revealed Friday in a public filing. Ergen several years ago tried to buy Sprint, helmed by CEO Marcelo Claure and may get another chance if regulators block a T-Mobile deal.

Ergen too could win if he can buy T-Mobile assets.

The New York Times reported Friday that the Department of Justice was close to approving the T-Mobile and Sprint merger, sending Sprint’s shares up 2.9 percent to $7.01.

There was no mention of Dish, but Dish is likely crucial to gaining the DOJ’s approval, as it will likely be conditioned on asset sales, sources said.

New York, along with eight other states and the District of Columbia, this week sued to block the megamerger between the wireless carriers, arguing that a deal would mean higher prices for consumers.

They will likely keep challenging the deal regardless of whether the DOJ approves the transaction.

Dish even with T-Mobile assets will still need at least three years to build a new wireless network, a source close to T-Mobile said.

Dish declined to comment.

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