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Opinion
Tara Lachapelle

Dish as 5G Wireless Savior Looks Even More Far-Fetched

Regulators billed the company as the competitive antidote to allow industry giants T-Mobile and Sprint to merge. That flawed thinking is even more so now.

Dish founder Charlie Ergen just needs $10 billion and a willing partner, that’s all.

Dish founder Charlie Ergen just needs $10 billion and a willing partner, that’s all.

Photographer: Karl Gehring/Denver Post

When T-Mobile US Inc. was trying to buy Sprint Corp., Colorado billionaire Charlie Ergen became the deal’s saving grace. Ergen had big plans to build a 5G wireless business, and U.S. antitrust authorities looked to that as the competitive antidote to allowing the industry’s two biggest discount carriers to merge. Sprint would be gone, but Ergen’s de novo network would take its spot. It was a regulatory rubber stamp for the ages.

Next, Ergen would just need $10 billion and a willing partner. No one figured a pandemic would shut down the economy and roil financial markets.