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The single biggest reason AT&T and Verizon should fear a T-Mobile/Dish merger

Updated Jun 4th, 2015 2:41PM EDT
T-Mobile Dish Vs. AT&T Verizon

What’s the biggest thing holding back T-Mobile from really giving Verizon and AT&T a run for their money? As an old Verizon commercial once put it, “It’s the network.” T-Mobile doesn’t have the caliber of spectrum that America’s two biggest wireless companies have, which puts it at a big disadvantage in several markets, particularly in less urban markets where its coverage is weakest. However, Ars Technica’s Jon Brodkin smartly points out that a merger between Dish and T-Mobile could change that very quickly.

RELATED: T-Mobile in merger talks with Dish Network; John Legere would be CEO of new company

The key thing here is that Dish owns licenses in the lower part of the 700MHz band, which is better for propagating signals over long distances than spectrum on higher bands. If it combines this spectrum with the spectrum T-Mobile has on the higher end of the 700MHz band, it could suddenly fill in some pretty big gaps for T-Mobile’s overall coverage.

Furthermore, Dish hasn’t really done much with all the potential mobile data spectrum it holds, which means it could get a vastly improved LTE network up relatively quickly if it merged with T-Mobile. And since Dish is a fundamentally different company than T-Mobile as a satellite TV provider, there’s a better chance that regulators will sign off on a merger between the two companies whereas they were reluctant to sign off on one between T-Mobile and AT&T or T-Mobile and Sprint.

So if you’ve ever been curious about what T-Mobile could do with a significantly improved spectrum portfolio, the potential merger with Dish may be the best way to find out.

Brad Reed
Brad Reed Staff Writer

Brad Reed has written about technology for over eight years at and Network World. Prior to that, he wrote freelance stories for political publications such as AlterNet and the American Prospect. He has a Master's Degree in Business and Economics Journalism from Boston University.