Dish Network values its offer at $7 a share, including $4.76 in cash and the remainder in its shares. The offer is 12.5 percent above Sprint Nextel’s closing share price on Friday.
“The Dish proposal clearly presents Sprint shareholders with a superior alternative to the pending SoftBank proposal,” Mr. Ergen said in a statement.
Mr. Ergen said a “Dish/Sprint merger will create the only company that can offer customers a convenient, fully integrated, nationwide bundle of in- and out-of-home video, broadband and voice services.”
Dish Network said it would be able to combine its existing broadband and TV offerings with Sprint Nextel’s cellphone operations, allowing it to better compete with rivals like Verizon that are moving into new areas in search of revenue.
Dish Network’s effort to take over Sprint is the latest of many moves toward consolidation in the highly competitive broadband industry. In 2011, AT&T tried to buy its rival T-Mobile USA, a move that was blocked by the Justice Department because of antitrust concerns. Last year, Verizon scored a deal with a group of cable companies that agreed to sell it spectrum licenses to build its wireless network in exchange for allowing them to sell their cable services inside Verizon stores.
Mr. Sharma said that a Sprint merger with SoftBank would most likely be better for consumers than one with Dish. The two carriers combined would have more buying power to negotiate with manufacturers like Apple or Samsung to buy large quantities of phones at lower prices.
Because the phones would be cheaper for Sprint, the carrier could charge customers less for access its network to make up for the costs of the phones, he said.
Amid the fight for Sprint is a tug of war for Clearwire, another wireless operator of which Sprint is the majority owner. Sprint has signaled interest in taking over the company entirely with the cash infusion from SoftBank, but Dish in January made an unsolicited bid of $2.2 billion for a portion of the company.
And on the heels of Monday’s news, Verizon offered $1.5 billion to buy spectrum from Clearwire, according to a person briefed on the company’s plans, who was not authorized to speak publicly because the plans were not yet official.
If Dish Networks succeeded in a takeover of Sprint, it would be in a position to acquire Clearwire more quickly than Sprint/SoftBank, because a foreign company that tries to buy more than 25 percent of a telecom company must undergo regulatory review.
Barclays is advising Dish Network on its proposed bid. Deutsche Bank, the Raine Group and Mizuho Securities are advising SoftBank. Citigroup, Rothschild and UBS are advising Sprint Nextel.