A new player may be getting involved in the T-Mobile-Sprint merger.
A new report says that Google is in talks with Dish Network to create a fourth U.S. carrier using assets purchased from T-Mobile and Sprint. Alphabet board member Alan Mulally is talking with Dish, say New York Post sources, but those negotiations are said to be in flux and could break down.
It's said that Google and Dish could team up to create a new U.S. carrier and network using assets purchased from T-Mobile and Sprint. It's thought that Dish and Google could create a new wireless network in around three years.
Past reports have said that before it will approve T-Mo and Sprint's merger, the U.S. Department of Justice wants those two carriers to help create a fourth competitive carrier in the U.S. Dish has been named as the company most likely to buy assets from T-Mobile and Sprint, including spectrum and Boost Mobile, likely because it's got a large amount of its own spectrum that it could use in building a new network.
Partnering with Google could help Dish jumpstart its ambitions to become a major U.S. carrier, because not only is Google a huge company, it's got experience in the U.S. wireless market with Google Fi and its Pixel phones. Google Fi currently relies on the T-Mobile, Sprint, and U.S. Cellular networks, but it's possible that Google would like to build out its own wireless network with Dish that it would presumably have more control over.
T-Mobile parent company Deutsche Telekom is thought to be aware of Dish and Google's talks, as it and T-Mobile have said that they would only sell assets if Dish promised not to sell more than a 5 percent stake in its network to a third-party. However, both Dish and the DOJ have reportedly balked at that demand.
Google responded to today's report, denying that it's talking with Dish. ""These claims are simply false. Google is not having any conversations with Dish about creating a wireless network," said a Google spokesperson.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has already come out in support of the T-Mobile-Sprint merger, but the deal must also be approved by DOJ antitrust chief Makan Delrahim. A DOJ decision may still be a few weeks away, though, because Dish chairman Charlie Ergen is known for waiting until what he feels the best deal for him comes along, and it's said that deal talks are currently around "halfway there" and could take another two or three weeks.
The T-Mobile-Sprint merger is also facing a lawsuit from several state attorneys general who are suing to block the deal. They argue that the merger could lead to less competition and higher prices for consumers and that it could also negatively affect jobs.