It seems so long ago now that the pending merger of T-Mobile and Sprint was first announced. Despite federal regulatory approvals, the two companies had to take fourteen states to court in order to keep the deal alive. But today they seem to have finally won.
The deal may not be complete just yet, but the judge has ruled in their favor. US District Judge Victor Marrero diagreed with the thesis that competition would suffer, and thus it seems the last hurdle may have been cleared. And yet, as good as that news is for T-Mobile, perhaps the most interesting change we in the infrastructure sector will see first will be from the proposed new #4 wireless carrier, Dish.
From all I hear, and being at Metro Connect this week I am hearing a lot of it, Dish is not going to waste any time getting started with the build-out its own network. Not only do they have regulatory deadlines looming with stiff financial penalties if they aren't met, but this is finally Charlie Ergen's chance to do what he's been talking about doing for the better part of a decade. However, talk is cheap and we will just have to see if they follow through.
A crash buildout by Dish could mean lots of business for multiple infrastructure players. Thus while the prospect of seeing Sprint and T-Mobile's networks consolidated and the costs slowly squeezed out over the next few years is definitely a thing, the opportunities presented by Dish just may be a bigger thing and quicker to develop.
I have gone back and forth over the last year on the likelihood of this deal getting done, but so much water has gone under the bridge in the industry since it was announced that I have to agree that blocking it makes less sense now than ever. Congrats to T-Mobile for sticking to its guns, but now the hard work does begin -- or it will when they finally actually close the deal. If nothing else, I think Dish will have more fun building a greenfield network than anyone is likely to find integrating two existing national footprints circuit by circuit.
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