T-Mobile, DISH Merger Talks Said to Hit Snag

A potential merger between Dish Network Corp. and the high-flying T-Mobile US Inc. may have hit a snag.

To date, Dish Network hasn’t met Deutsche Telekom’s demand for the type of offer it wants in order to unload T-Mobile, Bloomberg reported this week.

Unidentified sources with knowledge of the matter told Bloomberg that Englewood, Colorado-based Dish and Bonn, Germany-based Deutsche Telekom would prefer to work out an agreement in the next two or three months before concentrating on a 2016 auction for spectrum.

The article explained that the companies face a quiet period under Federal Communications Commission anti-collusion rules in connection with the auction and therefore would be prohibited from talking to each other. In the 2016 “broadcast television spectrum auction,” Dish and T-Mobile may find themselves competing for wireless licenses, as they did earlier this year during an auction for AWS-3 spectrum.

Dish and T-Mobile didn’t comment on the news report.

Bellevue, Washington-based T-Mobile has been successful distinguishing itself from its rivals in recent years, and in the first quarter, “America’s Un-Carrier” revised upwards its expectations for customer growth in 2015. Deutsche Telekom doesn’t need to sell T-Mobile now due to its performance, and it’s possible that others could make a bid for the wireless carrier in a new U.S. presidential administration, sources told Bloomberg.

The Obama Administration has critically examined major mergers in the communications industry. Most recently, the U.S. Justice Department and Federal Communications Commission essentially thwarted Comcast Corp.’s acquisition of Time Warner Cable. Last summer, Sprint Corp. abandoned its pursuit of a merger with T-Mobile, citing regulatory concerns as a major reason for its decision.

Dish holds billions of dollars in spectrum and has long been considered a natural fit for merging with a wireless carrier. Although the satellite television provider has reportedly pursued deals to buy Sprint, Clearwire and other major players, it has come up empty.

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