T-Mobile US Inc. is fed up with waiting for Charlie Ergen’s Dish Network Corp. to buy $3.5 billion of airwaves and is urging the US government to not grant an extension.
(Bloomberg) — T-Mobile US Inc. is fed up with waiting for Charlie Ergen’s Dish Network Corp. to buy $3.5 billion of airwaves and is urging the US government to not grant an extension.
In a filing Friday in the US District Court in Washington, the wireless giant said that Dish needed to complete its purchase, which had an August deadline. If a deal cannot be reached, the company said it wants to instead put the airwaves up for auction.
“At some point, enough is enough,” T-Mobile said in the filing. “A deal is a deal, and it is time for DISH and the DOJ to live up to the deal that they made.”
A deal is critical both for Dish’s efforts to expand into the telecom space and for the federal government’s efforts to maintain a competitive wireless market in the aftermath of T-Mobile’s purchase of provider Sprint Corp. in 2020. To close the Sprint deal, the US Justice Department told T-Mobile it needed to sell a portion of its airwaves, and has propped up Dish as a possible fourth competitor to T-Mobile, AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc., urging the court to give financially strapped Dish more time to complete that purchase.
Denying an extension to Dish could see it pushed out of the deal, potentially undermining the satellite network’s ability to compete with the big three national carriers.
Ergen has been working to turn his Dish empire into a mobile-data service provider and move away from the declining pay-TV network business, and the purchase of the airwaves are at the heart of this transition. The frequencies at issue are in the 800 megahertz band, a range useful for mobile connections.
If the court sides with Dish and the Justice Department, Ergen’s company would have until April 1 to buy the airwaves. The agency’s support helped boost Dish’s stock, but it has since given up much of those gains. The shares are down more than 50% this year.
The case is US v Deutsche Telekom AG et al, 1:19-cv-02232, US District Court, District of Columbia (Washington, DC)
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