& cplSiteName &

Charlie Ergen's Spectrum Grab

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner
2/3/2011
50%
50%

With Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH) putting up $1 billion for a distressed hybrid satellite/terrestrial firm, Charlie Ergen & Co. is in a position to accumulate a swath of spectrum that, some analysts estimate, will rival what Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) and T-Mobile US Inc. control today.

But what does Ergen intend to do with it all? Rev up a plan to offer mobile broadband services? Video? Voice? A combination? Or will he just hoard it for a while as the value of all that spectrum builds up and then unload it at a handsome premium to operators that could use it the most, such as T-Mobile, Leap Wireless International Inc. (Nasdaq: LEAP) or MetroPCS Inc. (NYSE: PCS)?

Dish and its corporate cousin, EchoStar Corp. LLC (Nasdaq: SATS), aren't saying anything about those plans at the moment, but speculation is running rampant after Ergen agreed to fork over big bucks to buy bankrupt DBSD North America Inc. DBSD, which counts as a creditor, has been developing hybrid satellite and terrestrial systems. (See Dish Puts Up $1B for Bankrupt DBSD.)

But it's that deal that has set speculation about Dish's wireless plans into overdrive.

According to a report from BTIG Research Analyst Walter Piecyk, the primary asset of DBSD is a 20MHz block of spectrum in the S-band. That capacity could fit in nicely with another 20MHz of spectrum in the same band Ergen is in the process of getting as he tries to seize control of TerreStar Networks, another bankrupt company that happens to have its own satellite. It's speculated that those blocks are close enough that Dish and EchoStar could support them together.

When the 700MHz spectrum that Ergen already owns is factored in, "he will control as much spectrum as Sprint and T-Mobile," Piecyk notes.

Spectrum Comparison

Charlie's next move
So what will Dish do? The popular speculation by Piecyk and other analysts is that the company may, as LightSquared just did, try to obtain a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) waiver to use DBSD spectrum to offer terrestrial services, though it may have to forfeit some capacity to the feds just to get it. As it stands, DBSD's spectrum use is limited to satellite services. (See LightSquared Grabs More Spectrum, Customers and FCC Lets LightSquared Pass 'Go'.)

"The logical path would be to seek a waiver from the FCC to offer terrestrial-only services which would enable a number of different sale and partner agreements," the BTIG analyst wrote.

But, he adds, no one appears willing to rule out that Dish might decide to construct a costly 4G wireless network. Short of that, a company that's flush with spectrum might make an attractive acquisition target for Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) and AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T).

Yet another possible scenario envisions Ergen combining his S-band spectrum with LightSquared and its Long Term Evolution (LTE) project, and perhaps netting an equity stake in exchange. Piecyk warns, however, that Dish's spectrum might conflict with the lower frequency L-band deployment LighSquared has been pitching to potential wholesale customers.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

(0)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
Featured Video
From The Founder
Light Reading founder Steve Saunders grills Cisco's Roland Acra on how he's bringing automation to life inside the data center.
Flash Poll
Upcoming Live Events
February 26-28, 2018, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA
March 20-22, 2018, Denver Marriott Tech Center
April 4, 2018, The Westin Dallas Downtown, Dallas
May 14-17, 2018, Austin Convention Center
All Upcoming Live Events
Infographics
SmartNICs aren't just about achieving scale. They also have a major impact in reducing CAPEX and OPEX requirements.
Hot Topics
Here's Pai in Your Eye
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading, 12/11/2017
Project AirGig Goes Down to Georgia
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 12/13/2017
Verizon's New Fios TV Is No More
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 12/12/2017
Ericsson & Samsung to Supply Verizon With Fixed 5G Gear
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 12/11/2017
Netflix Evaluating AI for Personalized Trailers
Aditya Kishore, Practice Leader, Video Transformation, Telco Transformation, 12/8/2017
Animals with Phones
Don't Fall Asleep on the Job! Click Here
Live Digital Audio

Understanding the full experience of women in technology requires starting at the collegiate level (or sooner) and studying the technologies women are involved with, company cultures they're part of and personal experiences of individuals.

During this WiC radio show, we will talk with Nicole Engelbert, the director of Research & Analysis for Ovum Technology and a 23-year telecom industry veteran, about her experiences and perspectives on women in tech. Engelbert covers infrastructure, applications and industries for Ovum, but she is also involved in the research firm's higher education team and has helped colleges and universities globally leverage technology as a strategy for improving recruitment, retention and graduation performance.

She will share her unique insight into the collegiate level, where women pursuing engineering and STEM-related degrees is dwindling. Engelbert will also reveal new, original Ovum research on the topics of artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, security and augmented reality, as well as discuss what each of those technologies might mean for women in our field. As always, we'll also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air and chat board.

Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed