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Dish flirted with MetroPCS, but went home with Google in the end

Just wants someone to fill its virginal spectrum

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Dish offered $4bn for MetroPCS, hoping to seduce the operator with cash, but is seemingly consoling itself in the arms of Google while the former object of its affections is jumping in to bed with T-Mobile.

9 To 5 Google reports that its sources within the chocolate factory have confirmed a deal with Dish to launch a Google-branded mobile network, providing pure IP connectivity (no voice or text) from the middle of next year. Rumours aside we now know that Dish offered $4bn for MetroPCS, showing that it's serious about running a mobile network one way or another.

The offer was revealed in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing by MetroPCS, ahead of its merger with T-Mobile USA, picked up by the Wall Street Journal. The deal on the table in August comprised 30 per cent cash with the balance in stock, but was rejected and MetroPCS announced its merger with T-Mobile USA less then two months later.

Dish Networks isn't named in the filing which refers to "Company C", but the WSJ has information that this is Dish and there seems little reason to doubt it as the company is desperate to fill the radio spectrum it owns and buying an existing network is the quickest way to achieve that.

Dish owns 40 MHz of spectrum which, right now, is reserved for satellite use, but within weeks the FCC will decide if it should be allowed to deploy a terrestrial network in those frequencies, along with handsets incapable of satellite communications (a necessary waiver to avoid phones being prohibitively expensive).

Sprint is trying to get the FCC to require a 5MHz guard band, which would reduce the Dish holding but remove any chance of its network interfering with Sprint.

Assuming that permission is granted then Dish will want to get a network rolled out as quickly as possible, which is why it was trying to bed MetroPCS and has been seen out with Google along with anyone else who might be recruited to help. Google could certainly afford to build the network, and being data only (voice would be carried as VoIP) would simplify things. Then the Google brand will give confidence to device manufactures.

A deal between Google and Dish is almost certainly dependent on the result of the FCC ruling, though both companies will be poised to make an announcement if they are indeed planning a deal, so we'll have to wait for the former to find out about the latter. ®

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