Wireless, video and broadband in the home and outdoors, on one bill -- that's the thrust behind Dish Networks L.L.C's $25.5 billion bid to merge with Sprint Nextel Inc. (See Dish Bids $25.5B for Sprint.)
The satellite operator, which has made no secret of its wireless ambitions, took a giant leap in that direction Monday morning with a bid to supplant Japan's SoftBank Mobile as Sprint's merger partner. (See Softbank to Pay $20B for 70% Sprint Stake.)
"Combining the third largest pay TV operator and the third largest mobile operator gives us the chance to become number two or maybe number one," explained Dish CEO Charlie Ergen on a conference call discussing the proposal.
Amidst several Seinfeld references, the CEO said the benefit for the American consumer of the combined entity would be to have TV, wireless and broadband all on one bill, covering services inside and outside the home.
What Dish brings to the party for Sprint is more spectrum: It has has AWS-4 (40MHz) and 700Mhz spectrum to add to Sprint's PCS and 2.6GHz holdings. Ergen claimed it would give the new entity double the bandwidth holdings of even its largest rivals.
Ergen also claimed that Dish's advantage over SoftBank is that it, as a U.S. company, wouldn't have to undergo the foreign ownership review that the Justice department is currently undertaking with SoftBank. (See DoJ Could Stall Sprint-SoftBank Deal.)
Asked what would happen if SoftBank revised its bid for Sprint in light of the Dish offer, Ergen said: "Then it would just end up as a two-part Seinfeld show -- they had a few of those, didn't they?"
The Sprint board has just announced that it will evaluate the unsolicited Dish offer. Dish also still has an offer out to grab a stake in Sprint's WiMax partner, Clearwire Corp. (See Dish Puts In Rival Bid for Clearwire.)
— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile