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AT&T is considering a pricey purchase of Dish Networks, speculates Bloomberg.

At $50 a share, cited as a reasonable price by Alpine Mutual Funds, AT&T would have to pay a 77 percent premium for Dish, the highest in an acquisition greater than $5 billion by a telecommunications company since 2000, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Verizon is buying AWS spectrum (1.7/2.1 GHz) from cable operators (SpectrumCo). That transaction would give Verizon Wireless some 56 percent more LTE spectrum than AT&T in the top 10 markets and 46 percent more in the top 100, reports Bloomberg. AT&T, whose 100.7 million wireless subscribers trail Verizon Wireless’s 107.7 million, would have boosted its spectrum by 62 percent with the T-Mobile deal, according to UBS.

In addition to Dish, AT&T targets could include MetroPCS Communications, Leap Wireless and Clearwire, said, Philip Cusick, a JPMorgan Chase analyst in New York. But CDMA-based Leap or MetroPCS would be incompatible and face regulatory challenges. A Dish purchase by AT&T would be less of an issue for regulators, and they offer clean spectrum at 2.1 GHz.

Then there’s Clearwire, which has some 60-80 MHz of spectrum in most large markets. The 2.6 GHz spectrum doesn’t have the range of lower frequencies but it is well suited for urban environments. The 2.6 GHz spectrum is also a harmonized global frequency standard for FD-LTE and TD-LTE.

Apple’s iPhone for China Mobile would likely work directly on Clearwire’s 2.6 GHz spectrum.

In a battle between Sprint and AT&T to buy Dish, AT&T might easily offer more money. But it’s probably not that simple. High tech investors, including Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Google and others may have a dog in this fight.

Wireless Intelligence says there are 38 different bands for LTE.

Today more than 2/3rds use the 700 MHz band, but by 2016 the 2.1-2.6 GHz bands will grow significantly, used by about 33% of all LTE subs, while the relative percentage of 700 MHz users is expected to shrink to an estimated 16%.

UBS Research says the best-case scenario is for Dish getting a waiver without restrictions for ATC, then selling the S-band to AT&T for ~$0.69/MHz-POP (in-line with the Verizon/SpectrumCo deal), as well as the Dish 700 MHz licenses for ~$0.90/MHz-POP (similar to the AT&T deal with Qualcomm). This values the spectrum at $9.4B vs. the $3.6B Dish paid.

AT&T would have to pay top dollar for Dish and build the infrastructure to support it. It wouldn’t be cheap.

A T-Mobile joint ownership of Dish might save billions compared to AT&T – they wouldn’t have to build anything. T-Mobile already has their AWS (1.7/2.1 GHz) infrastructure in place. Dish could ride shotgun.

T-Mobile and Dish might even move their infrastructure to Sprint towers, saving considerable money.

Maybe AT&T will buy Lightsquared.

All may be revealed in time for Mobile World Congress 2012, starting 27 February.

Related DailyWireless Space and Satellite News includes; Dish CEO: T-Mobile Partnership?, Verizon Buying Nationwide AWS Spectrum from Cable, AT&T Merger Officially Dead, Dish: Show Me the Money!, 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?

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