When the smoke clears and the T-Mobile, Sprint merger is complete, we may be hearing quite a bit more from both John Legere and Charlie Ergen. The merged company will be run by Legere, current head of T-Mobile. It also looks like Ergen of Dish Network will be the new player in wireless. I think these two see themselves re-writing the entire wireless industry. So, let’s take a closer look at what we can expect as investors, customers, workers and competitors.
First, I think this merger between T-Mobile and Sprint is great for both of them because it combines the marketing of one company and the spectrum of the other. Both have strengths and weaknesses. Combining will help them be a stronger third place competitor.
The players behind this merger are John Legere and Deutsche Telekom of T-Mobile, and Masayoshi Son and Marcelo Claure of Sprint.
T-Mobile, Sprint and Dish Network will try to transform wireless
If you recall, the marketing angle of T-Mobile after Legere joined the company was very loud and he attacked every competitor with foul language and antics to punch their way onto the radar. Over several years it did just that.
After the merger is complete, the question is will T-Mobile marketing change? Now that they are on the map, will they take a more traditional wireless path, or will they resume the same take-no-prisoners attack path it was on before?
I think John Legere will get back to business as usual and start attacking everyone once again. That’s just who he is. I think after the merger is complete, we will see him burst back onto the marketing scene once again. I could be wrong, but as the old saying goes, it’s hard to teach old dog’s new tricks.
Dish Network has two goals in wireless: offensive and defensive
I also think Dish Network wants to be a player in wireless. They are not in wireless yet, but they see the writing on the wall.
Look at AT&T. They acquired DirecTV and Time Warner renaming it WarnerMedia. All this works together with AT&T Mobility.
Look at Comcast. They acquired NBC Universal and are offering Xfinity Mobile. Other cable TV competitors are also entering wireless. Consider Charter Spectrum Mobile and Altice Mobile.
So, Charlie Ergen of Dish sees the writing on the wall. The combination of all these different services seems to be the future. That’s why he wants to take Dish in this new direction as well.
Dish Network must take offensive and defensive strategy
The way I see things, Dish has to have two goals. One is defensive and the other is offensive. They want to protect their existing customer base, and they want to grow in wireless.
While I think the defensive play, to hang onto their existing customer base makes sense, the real question is around the offensive play. Can they ultimately become a real wireless competitor? Wireless, after all is a tough industry to succeed in.
I believe this is what Charlie Ergen wants. Can he achieve it, is the question?
He could attempt this on his own, or he could have partners to spread the risk and enormous investment. Dish could work with partners like Google, Facebook and Amazon. These are companies who have shown they have an intense interest in wireless, but who have not been successful yet.
Will Dish Network partner with Amazon, Google Fi and Facebook?
Perhaps one, two or three of these companies working together with Dish could help this new competitor actually become a real fourth-place competitor.
The bottom line is, no one knows yet whether all this commotion will really matter to the wireless industry.
I don’t see it impacting wireless, as an industry. I still see Verizon Wireless and AT&T Mobility leading the charge. This is a story about T-Mobile and Dish Network. It will help T-Mobile and could help Dish, if they do what they need to do to be successful.
While the moves of these smaller players may be interesting to watch, I don’t think they will impact the wireless industry. But it will be interesting to watch them change and grow and attempt to succeed in wireless.
So, let’s keep our eyes on both John Legere and Charlie Ergen and their attempt to change things around and win at wireless. These are two entrepreneurs who have succeed in the past. The question is, can they make lightning strike twice?
The wireless industry continues to be a rapidly growing and changing industry. Traditional services will remain in charge, but these new players will be worth keeping our eyes on.
One thing is for sure, the next couple years will be very loud, rockin and rollin at least from the perspective of T-Mobile and Dish Network. I wish them both success.
Disclosure: Disclosure: Jeff Kagan, like many researchers and analysts, provides or has provided research, analysis, advising, and consulting services to many companies, including AT&T, Sprint, Xfinity Mobile, IBM, PayPal and many others. For more information, as well as a detailed list of clients, visit www.jeffkagan.com. He does not hold equity positions with companies named in this column.
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