Altice USA, Charter Communications and DISH Network are among the leading bidders for assets that T-Mobile US and Sprint plan to sell in order to win regulatory approval for their USD26 billion merger, people familiar with the matter have informed Bloomberg. The companies are all on a shortlist of bidders favoured by the Department of Justice (DoJ), the sources confirmed, adding that the antitrust division would be comfortable with cable/pay-TV companies buying the assets because they are well positioned to become viable wireless competitors.
TeleGeography notes that Altice USA – which owns domestic cablecos Suddenlink and Cablevision – is poised to launch a Full MVNO over the Sprint network later this summer, while Charter entered the MVNO space in July 2018, leveraging an agreement with Verizon Wireless. DISH, meanwhile, has been stockpiling multi-band spectrum in recent years, although its wireless plans remain unclear. The potential acquisition of Sprint’s pre-paid unit, Boost Mobile, would give each player a leg-up in the wireless market.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in April 2018 T-Mobile and Sprint entered into a definitive agreement to merge in an all-stock transaction. They seek to create a company which will be 41.7% owned by T-Mobile’s parent Deutsche Telekom (DT, which would have overall control) and 27.4% owned by Sprint parent SoftBank Group Corp, with the remaining 30.9% in free float. Despite winning over Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Ajit Pai, the long-running merger continues to face opposition from the DoJ, which believes that the agreed concessions are not sufficient to resolve its concerns.