DISH Network is back in an acquisitive mood again, this time in an effort to bolster its attempt to build a nationwide wireless network.
The satellite TV provider is in talks to acquire a swath of spectrum from T-Mobile, according to LightReading. You can see read FCC filing on the transaction here. It’s a chunk of 800 Mhz spectrum, which falls in the low band category, known for its far-reaching coverage but average speeds.
A spokesperson for DISH didn’t comment on the value of the deal.
The transaction is the latest twist in the relationship between the two companies, which have been tied together since T-Mobile and Sprint merged in 2020. As part of that deal, the combined companies spun off Boost Mobile to DISH and struck a wireless reseller agreement, part of the government’s attempt to create a new No. 4 competitor in the industry.
That hasn’t worked out as planned, with DISH slowly building out its own nationwide service even as it loses the wireless customers it gained from Sprint. The company, saddled with $21 billion in debt, still needs to hit additional milestones for wireless coverage, including covering 75% of the nation by 2025.
The 800 Mhz spectrum, which was originally owned by Sprint before the merger, would help DISH reach those additional regions. The far-reaching low-band spectrum is ideal for covering big areas, and the lower frequency means it can more effectively penetrate walls for better indoor coverage.
“DISH believes the 800 MHz spectrum remains an important component of its ability to provide facilities-based competition in the wireless market, as envisioned by the Final Judgment,” said a DISH spokesperson
DISH doesn’t want to make the purchase of the spectrum official until June 30, 2024, which suggests it still needs to line up funding to make the acquisition.
The company is in a bind as interest rates continue to rise and its own core business — satellite TV — is in decline with a loss of 294,000 subscribers in the second quarter.