Dish Network has launched a $25.5 billion takeover bid that would see it take control of Sprint. Japanese carrier SoftBank is currently in the process of purchasing Sprint, but Dish's offer could derail the takeover. Today's announcement represents a proposal, rather than a legally-binding offer, but The Wall Street Journal says the company is confident it can raise the funds necessary for such a large purchase. Under the conditions of the bid, Dish's shareholders would gain full control over the merged company.

Although cellular networking is new to Dish, the company has been making moves to get involved in the field. After expressing an interest in partnering with T-Mobile last year, it battled with Sprint for control of Clearwire in January by placing a rival takeover bid in for the carrier. As well as making moves to buy out Clearwire, Dish also gained FCC approval to build its own LTE network.

In recent months Dish has been offering debt to raise money, presumably to fund today's enormous offer. Because of the advanced state of the SoftBank deal, any company derailing the process would have to pay a $600 million "breakup fee," which Dish chairman Charles Ergen says the company is "willing to pay." In a statement announcing the proposed merger, Ergen says:

"The Dish proposal clearly presents Sprint shareholders with a superior alternative to the pending SoftBank proposal. Sprint shareholders will benefit from a higher price with more cash while also creating the opportunity to participate more meaningfully in a combined Dish/Sprint with a significantly-enhanced strategic position and substantial synergies that are not attainable through the pending SoftBank proposal."

If the merger goes ahead, Dish Network and Sprint will be able to offer broadband, TV, and mobile plans as a single package. Dish says the deal would create "the only company able to offer a fully-integrated, nationwide bundle of in- and out-of-home video, broadband and voice services" across the country. It also claims the merger would result in significant savings for both companies. It estimates it could raise $37 billion in "synergies and growth opportunities," including cutting an estimated $11 billion in costs.