Dish Network seeks delays on spectrum purchase
August 21, 2023
By Chris Forrester
Dish Network wants to delay paying $3.59 billion (3.3bn) it agreed with T-Mobile for 800 MHz licences for its proposed extension to Boost Mobile. The agreement covers a valuable nationwide slice of 13.5 MHz within the 800 MHz band.
Dish was an important party to the deal struck when T-Mobile merged with Sprint. A buyer had to be found for the T-Mobile 800 MHz licences and Dish stepped into the agreement.
However, as part of the deal it was obliged to pay its $3.59 billion promptly. Dish has now asked the US District Court for the District of Columbia for a 10 month delay (to June 2024) in paying for the spectrum.
Dish argues that it is now in the middle its merger with EchoStar, which when completed will put it on a stronger financial footing. Dish also cites Covid, the war in Ukraine, the failure of US regional banks and “other macroeconomic dislocations” that have combined to see interest rates hiked over the past 18 months.
“The dramatic increase in interest rates has made it significantly more expensive for Dish to finance a purchase of the 800 MHz Spectrum Licences, rendering its ability to responsibly do so within the timeline provided by the Final Judgment substantially more difficult than Dish – or other parties to the Final Judgment – ever could have anticipated,” Dish told the Court.
Dish, if it walks away from the spectrum purchase, is obliged to pay $72 million in costs to T-Mobile.
Dish is obliged to provide cellular service to 70 per cent of its mandated coverage with 5G services.