Dish: Show Me the Money!

Posted by Sam Churchill on

Reallocating the 700 MHz D Block spectrum to public safety now seems all but inevitable, even if it doesn’t happen until next year. That means cellular providers must look elsewhere for spectrum.

Verizon already made their choice. The largest US cellular carrier bought cable’s nationwide AWS spectrum (1.7/2.1 GHz) for their LTE expansion. AT&T hoped to merge with T-Mobile, but if that merger collapses, as some predict, that leaves T-Mobile (and AT&T) without an LTE expansion plan.

Enter Dish networks, which has 40 MHz of clean 2.1 GHz MSS spectrum — without the GPS interference issues of Lightsquared.

It seems like a good fit for T-Mobile. T-Mobile already has a nationwide AWS infrastructure — and their existing antennas might accommodate the 40 MHz of Dish terrestrial spectrum. They don’t have to “build” anything.

T-Mobile/Dish could provide 40 MHz of national LTE coverage. Fast and cheap.

Dish CEO Joseph Clayton said last week the company would like to form a wireless partnerships.

“We’re not interested in making money on selling our spectrum,” said Clayton in the interview.

“We want to use it to create a national wireless network, video, voice and data. We’ve got expertise in satellite-TV, and we will in satellite broadband. The voice part, we’ll need some help with.”

That indicates that Dish may not be interested in selling its spectrum to AT&T. It may see broadband as a hedge against a decline in satellite television.

But Dish and T-Mobile need cash. According to Pingdom, Google, Microsoft, Apple, IBM, Yahoo, Amazon and other tech giants have money in the bank. Facebook too.

The future of big tech companies depends on mobile services.

Tech companies can remake T-Mobile. With Dish, T-Mobile’s LTE spectrum would be about twice the size of AT&T or Verizon – they currently have 12 MHz – 22 MHz of spectrum in the 700 MHz band. Tech investors might have wholesale access to some 40 MHz of LTE connectivity in a T-Mobile/Dish spectrum deal.

Microsoft recently purchased Skype. Today, Towerstream, a leading 4G service provider and Wi-Fi network operator, announced Skype has partnered with Towerstream’s Manhattan Wi-Fi network for free calling within Skype’s WiFi hotspot footprint. Skype for Android phones lets you make voice or video calls or send instant messages. Free.

Skype Wi-Fi offers allows users to talk to other subscribers for free and charges just over 2 cents a minute for calls to landlines and mobiles — as well for surfing the Web and getting email — on a network of 20,000 third-party hotspots worldwide.

Republic Wireless has a $19 per month prepaid voice and data service. Users get “unlimited” voice, SMS, and data service, but subscribers use WiFi as their default for voice and data.

FreedomPop wants to offer free wireless voice and data across the US, starting in rural areas in 2012 and signed an agreement with LightSquared to provide the backbone for the service.

Lower connection fees for consumers means tech companies could sell more gadgets and services. Everybody wins.

The other shoe is about to drop. U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle set a Jan. 18 hearing about the future of the AT&T/T-Mobile merger.

Perhaps AT&T could buy Dish’s 700 MHz E-Block to create a nationwide 12 MHz “wireless cable” system, as a face-saving move, before it has to go crawling to Sprint/Clearwire for 2.6 GHz spectrum.

Any AT&T announcement would be big news for CES 2012, January 10-13,
while a Dish/TMobile deal might come together in time for Mobile World Congress 2012, Feb 27 – Mar 1 in Barcelona.

Any T-Mobile/Dish/Tech partnership might resemble Clearwire’s investor structure which had cable partners chip in some $1.6 billion, Intel some $1 billion, Google $500 million, and Sprint/Clearwire with most of the balance.

The new Sprint-Clearwire deal provides $926 million in payments from Sprint for unlimited 4G WiMax services as well as possible prepayment for LTE services and additional equity investment in Clearwire, committing up to $1.6 billion in financing.

Since the entire federal government now views LightSquared about as favorably as an envelope full of anthrax, that leaves Dish and T-Mobile to drop the bomb.

They’re just the guys to do it.

Related DailyWireless Space and Satellite News includes; Dish LTE-Advanced Called “Ollo”, Dish Talks Up Terrestrial LTE, ViaSat-1 Launched, Charlie Ergen’s Spectacular Triple Play, Charlie’s Big Play, EchoStar Closes $2B Hughes Deal, Lightsquared: FCC Will Rule by Year End, Lightsquared: A Hardware Solution, Lightsquared Interference: No Immediate Fix?, LightSquared: GPS Interference Found, Lightsquared: Plan B from Outer Space?, Harbinger: 59MHz or What?. Time Warner Cable + Lightstream?, Lightsquared Signs Cricket Wireless, Another Rumor: Lightsquared + Sprint?, Lightsquared + Sprint?, Charlie’s Big Play, LTE Spectrum: It’s War, Lightsquared: What GPS Interference?, Harbinger Sells Inmarsat Shares, FCC Green Lights Lightsquared, T-Mobile: No Spectrum Deal…Yet, LightSquared: In Trouble?, Lightsquared Unfurled, MetroPCS Eyes TerreStar, SkyTerra 1 Launched, ICO Deploys 40 Foot Antenna, ICO G-1 In Space, ICO Wants Its Mobile TV – via DVB-SH, Broadband Satellites: Black Hole?, MSS: Stuck in Space, Satellite with 328 ft Antenna to Launch, Broadband Satellites: Black Hole?, LightSquared: Phase 1, LightSquared: 5K Basestations by 2011, LightSquared Announces LTE Network, FCC Okays Terrestrial LTE for SkyTerra, TerreStar Successfully Launched, AT&T/TerreStar Ready Satphone Service, TerreStar Phones Home, Godzilla SatPhones WiMAXed

Posted by Sam Churchill on Thursday, December 15th, 2011 at 10:16 am .

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