A number of banks are looking at how to finance a possible bid by Sprint for T-Mobile US, a further sign that the former is seriously mulling a bid, according to The Wall Street Journal.

A deal, which would be worth more than $20 billion, could be ready in January for a bid that Sprint might move on in the first half of 2014, according to the report which is sourced to people familiar with the matter.

A report by Reuters earlier this week said that satellite TV operator Dish was also considering a bid for T-Mobile US.

Such a contest would mean Charlie Ergen renewing hostilities with SoftBank as the two companies earlier this year wrestled over the purchase of Sprint.

The banks looking to finance Sprint’s potential bid were not named.

Sprint has not apparently committed to a bid and is studying the regulatory barriers it would face.  A takeover of T-Mobile US would reduce the number of leading US mobile operators from four to three. As a result it would likely unsettle regulators such as the Department of Justice and Federal Communications Commission.

However, a merged entity would position Sprint/T-Mobile US as a realistic match for AT&T and Verizon Wireless in the country’s mobile market.

The new combination would have approximately 100 million connections against 109 million connections for AT&T and 117 million for Verizon Wireless (GSMA Intelligence, Q3, 2013 figures).