Google has been operating an MVNO using broadband from T-Mobile, Sprint, and U.S. Cellular since 2015. Following a rebrand to Google Fi late last year, the wireless service is targeting more customers than ever with expanded Android and iOS support. A new report today claims that “Google is in talks to help create a fourth US wireless carrier” with Dish.
According to the New York Post, Alphabet director Alan Mulally — a former Ford CEO — has “recently been in discussions with satellite-TV giant Dish Network about a plan to create a fourth US telecom player.”
Since last year, T-Mobile and Sprint have tried to merge into one major U.S. carrier to better compete with Verizon and AT&T. The Department of Justice has been hesitant to approve the deal due to antitrust concerns that leave consumers with one less national service.
The latest developments suggest that the government would allow this deal if a fourth network was created in place of Sprint. Dish has been increasingly positioned as taking on that position.
Today’s report suggests that Google would “help” launch this new carrier by working with Dish. One obvious role would be to supply the backend infrastructure needed to manage a complex network. The NY Posts cites an estimate from “insiders” that a “new, fully independent wireless network” could launch in “about three years.”
The NY Post also claims that there are no apparent concerns from U.S. regulators about Google helping form a fourth major provider. However, there is pushback from T-Mobile parent Deutsche Telecom about Google’s role.
Specifically, Deutsche Telekom lately has insisted that it will only sell assets to Dish if it promised not to sell more than a five-percent stake in itself to a third party, according to the sources.
This would be a huge step up for Google’s cellular ambitions, but the company has firmly denied that there are “any conversations with Dish about creating a wireless network.” While it’s possible that Mulally is in discussion with Dish, he could be acting outside his capacity as an Alphabet board member.
“These claims are simply false. Google is not having any conversations with Dish about creating a wireless network” a Google spokesman said, declining to comment on whether Mulally was speaking to Dish.