T-Mobile USA (TMUS) - Get T-Mobile US, Inc. Report , Dish (DISH) - Get DISH Network Corporation Class A Report , Comcast (CMCSA) - Get Comcast Corporation Class A Report , AT&T (T) - Get AT&T Inc. Report and Verizon (VZ) - Get Verizon Communications Inc. Report have been locked out of strategic talks for more than a year. The companies all participated in a Federal Communications Commission auction of wireless spectrum licenses that started last march, and the government bars talks between bidders to prevent collusion.
The quiet period officially ends at 6pm Thursday.
The end of the restrictions and the belief that the Trump administration would be more favorable to consolidation among wireless carriers -- or between wireless and cable operators -- has driven anticipation that M&A talks will heat up.
Sprint and T-Mobile have held talks in the past.
Comcast and Charter plan new wireless partnerships with Verizon, and presumably could decide to buy a mobile carrier -- especially if the likelihood exists that Sprint or T-Mobile could be taken off the market. European cable operator Altice NV has been acquisitive. Altice provides mobile service in some U.S. markets and plans an IPO that could provide it with currency for deals.
Companies like Globalstar GSAT and privately held Ligado have wireless spectrum portfolios and could become targets. Ligado, formerly known as LightSquared, has to resolve issues with the FCC before it can use its spectrum.
And Charlie Ergen needs to find a use for the billions of dollars in wireless spectrum that Dish has acquired.