Last week’s big news in the wireless world was a report that Sprint was making googoo eyes at T-Mobile and dreaming dreams of wedded bliss. But, as always seems to happen in great romantic comedies, there’s now rumors of a new suitor from the other side of town.
According to the romance writers at Reuters, Dish is standing in the corner of the room in its leather jacket, quietly sipping from a bottle of pop and trying not to show its obvious interest in riding off with T-Mobile sitting in the sidecar of its motorcycle.
Of course, Dish may still be stinging from the heartbreak of earlier this year, when it poured its heart out to Sprint, standing outside the wireless company’s window with a boom box over its head, only to watch through tear-filled eyes as Sprint entered into an intimate arrangement with Japanese telecom Softbank.
So in hopes of proving that its intentions are honest, Reuters hears that Dish has already spoken with T-Mobile’s parents at Deutsche Telekom, who have been desperately trying to foist their American child off on any suitor willing to pay.
A marriage of T-Mobile and Dish may not be such a crazy, kooky idea.
In a market dominated by two companies, T-Mobile could use the support from a spouse that isn’t just looking to absorb its subscriber base into theirs. Not having to constantly worry about being edged out of the market by Verizon and AT&T could allow T-Mobile to remain in the wireless business, where it has been a generally positive disruptive presence since being left at the altar by AT&T a couple years back. Dish also owns wireless spectrum that it’s really not doing much with and which would be better used by a company like T-Mobile.
Meanwhile, even though Dish — the second-largest satellite provider in the U.S. — is larger than many cable companies, it does not offer the same terrestrial broadband service that most cable companies provide to subscribers. So when a cord-cutter gets rid of her cable TV package, she’s still (usually) getting Internet access from that cable provider. But if she kills her Dish subscription, that’s likely the end of her relationship with the satellite company.
A Dish/T-Mobile union might also have an easier time getting the blessing of the regulators at the FCC and Justice Dept., both of whom did their best to keep T-Mobile and AT&T from eloping. Compared to a possible Sprint/T-Mobile tie-up, which would remove a major competitor from the national wireless market and leave consumers with only three nationwide providers, a satellite/wireless deal would keep T-Mobile in play as a competitor and would probably not set off any alarm bells in terms of cable antitrust concerns (unlike Comcast’s rumored interest in Time Warner Cable).