T-Mobile and Dish Make Peace Over Spectrum Sale




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T-Mobile and Dish Network have agreed on new terms that give the satellite provider more time to acquire a swath of radio airwaves from the wireless carrier.

The two companies have been in a months-long spat over the timing of the deal, with the Justice Department needing to step in. T-Mobile wanted Dish to followthrough on its commitment to purchase the spectrum for $3.5 billion this summer. But Dish wanted more time to obtain financing to fund the acquisition.

Under the terms of the resolution, Dish would pay a $100 million extension fee to T-Mobile in exchange for the extension, which was first reported by Bloomberg and confirmed by Cord Cutters News. The two companies told the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia that they had reached a resolution.

The deal stems from the concessions made by T-Mobile to get regulatory approval to buy Sprint, which contained terms that would help turn Dish into a fourth national wireless player. The additional spectrum would bolster Dish’s efforts to buildout a 5G network covering most of the country.

The spectrum sits in the 800 Mhz range, which is considered low band and is optimal for covering a wide area with average speeds.

“The extension, reflected in the Consent Motion and Proposed Amended Final Judgment, furthers the goals of the Final Judgment by helping DISH compete as the nation’s fourth facilities-based carrier,” said a DISH spokesperson. “We hope the court expeditiously adopts this uncontested proposed modification.”

If DISH doesn’t follow through on the deal by April 1, the agreement will automatically terminate unless both companies agree to an extension, the filing said. If DISH walks away, T-Mobile can divest the spectrum via an auction within six months of the April 1 deadline.

Dish’s financing challenges raises the question of how the company will fund the rest of the network buildout. The company’s network covers 70% of the country, but getting to the next milestone of 75% by 2025 will be a challenge given most of the heavily populated areas are already covered. The company, with more than $21 billion in debt, is slated to merge with Echostar in an effort to shore up its balance sheet and financial position.

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