Dish reportedly looks to partner with Apple, Google or Amazon to build its 5G network

Dish reportedly looks to partner with Apple, Google or Amazon to build its 5G network
The fate of the $26.5 billion T-Mobile-Sprint merger is in the hands of U.S. District Court Judge Victor Marrero. The judge is presiding over the non-jury trial that will determine whether 14 attorneys general from 13 states and Washington D.C. can shut down the deal because they see it as anti-competitive, leading to higher prices for consumers. While the plaintiffs argue that the removal of Sprint from the scene will reduce the number of major U.S. carriers by 25%, the defendants (T-Mobile and Sprint) say that without the merger, Sprint will be forced to raise prices and could disappear anyway.

For the judge to rule in the defendant's favor, he is going to have to believe that Dish Network will truly replace Sprint as the nation's fourth-largest wireless provider. Under the terms of a $5 billion deal that Dish made with Sprint, once the T-Mobile-Sprint deal is signed, Dish will acquire Sprint's prepaid units including Boost and Virgin Mobile. Boost alone will bring 9.3 million customers into the fold, and Dish will receive 7,500 retail locations and 14MHz of 800MHz low-band spectrum. It also will sign a seven-year MVNO agreement with T-Mobile allowing it to sell wireless service under its own name. At the same time, Dish is going to start building its own standalone 5G network. The satellite television provider has agreed with the Justice Department to cover 70% of the U.S. with 5G signals by 2023 or make a $2.2 billion "voluntary contribution" to the U.S. Treasury.

The $26.5 billion question: can Dish Network replace Sprint and maintain the competitive status quo in the wireless industry?

The decision that Judge Marrero makes will largely depend on whether he believes that Dish will be able to replace Sprint. And to a large degree, it comes down to whether the satellite television provider can find a deep-pocketed partner to help it build a 5G network. Such an endeavor will cost billions of dollars and Dish Chairman Charles Ergen happens to be conservative when it comes to spending money. Some people claiming to be familiar with Ergen's plans have told Fox Business News that the executive is looking to make a deal with tech companies including Google, Apple, and Amazon.

Apple would be an interesting partner for Dish because it appears as though the iPhone manufacturer is looking at ways to bypass the traditional carriers and send data directly to iPhone units via satellite. Dish could help Apple with this venture while Apple would also end up owning part of a 5G network. At the same time, Dish would get the funding that it needs. Google also would like to grab a stake in a 5G network; currently, it has MVNO deals with T-Mobile, Sprint and U.S. Cellular for its Google Fi wireless service. And Amazon would surely love the opportunity to market 5G service at cut-rate prices to its Amazon Prime customers. Boost Mobile founder Pete Adderton happens to agree with our assessment and says, "If you are Charlie Ergen, you would absolutely be looking at working with the likes of Google, Amazon, and Apple. Tech companies have a desire to access an open 5G network without operating one, and building one with Dish is the perfect answer."

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T-Mobile seeks to purchase Sprint to capture the latter's mid-band 2.5GHz spectrum. Mid-band airwaves are hard to come by in the U.S. and if the deal is approved, T-Mobile will end up with triple the 5G capacity of standalone T-Mobile and Sprint combined. Earlier this month, T-Mobile launched the first nationwide 5G network in the states and is counting on Sprint's spectrum to enhance the coast-to-coast network and allow it to cover more rural Americans with 5G signals.

5G is the next generation of wireless connectivity and will deliver download data speeds 10 times faster than 4G LTE. The faster data speeds will lead to the creation of new industries and technologies and the nations that are the first to harness the faster speeds will benefit from the expected 5G economic boom. Both T-Mobile and Sprint say that their merger is needed to help the U.S. become one of those countries.

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