Dish seeks more time to fight Sprint's Softbank, Clearwire deals

NEW YORK Fri Dec 21, 2012 5:18pm EST

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Dish Network (DISH.O) has asked the U.S. telecom regulator for more time to file an objection to wireless service provider Sprint Nextel's (S.N) proposed sale of a controlling stake to Japan's SoftBank Corp (9984.T) due to Sprint's announcement this week of a plan to buy out Clearwire Corp CLWR.O.

The request may indicate that satellite television provider Dish, controlled by billionaire founder Charlie Ergen, is gearing up for a fight with Sprint over its plan to sell a 70 percent stake to SoftBank for $20 billion. Dish declined further comment on the matter.

Dish, which recently gained regulatory approval to build its own wireless service, told the Federal Communications Commission in a document dated December 20 that it wants a three-week extension to the FCC's January 4 filing deadline for petitions against the Softbank deal, which was announced in October.

Earlier this week, Sprint, which owns 50.45 percent of Clearwire, said it agreed to buy the rest of Clearwire for $2.2 billion, in a deal that would be conditional on the success of the SoftBank purchase.

Sprint, the No. 3 U.S. mobile provider, declined to comment on the Dish filing on Friday.

It sent the FCC an amendment to its application for approval of the SoftBank deal on Thursday including notice of its agreement with Clearwire, which would gives Sprint control of the smaller company's substantial spectrum holdings.

Dish said in its filing that Sprint's plan "raises a number of issues deserving of careful consideration" and that interested parties need an appropriate amount of time to consider and address these issues.

For example, Dish questioned if it is in the public interest for a foreign company such as SoftBank to control more wireless spectrum than any other company in the United States.

It also asked whether the FCC should re-evaluate "the competitive effects" of a combination of Sprint's and Clearwire's spectrum holdings under one owner.

Dish and Sprint recently clashed with each other during the regulatory review of Dish's plans for its spectrum holdings.

Sprint is already meeting objections to the deal from some minority shareholders who are not happy with the $2.97 per share price it agreed on with Clearwire.

(Reporting By Sinead Carew and Liana B. Baker; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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Comments (3)
frankjg wrote:
Dish is having a hard time of understanding what/who they are.

Dec 21, 2012 8:00pm EST  --  Report as abuse
When all this settles in a couple years, this will be good for competition and good for the consumer. It appears Dish wants to get into the cell phone business which is a good thing. Dish apparently forgot T-Mobile is foreign owned as well as Sprint will be. However, Its good to have someone come in and challenge AT&T and Verizon Wireless. Its time we do more for the consumer. Personally, I think prices should be coming down and not up. The ability to build upon a wireless system which is able to use LTE, HSPA+, CDMA, Wifi and potentially satellite should help cover 100% of the US with full coverage for internet and further challenge the cable companies. A phone should be able to use any technology and without compromise of quality for the consumer. In a world where more data will be used, even for voice calls, this is a challenge for the companies to address. However, as new ways are address to compress data through Spectrum, I believe they will be able to succeed as time goes on. I’ve chosen republic wireless because they offer flexibility between such technologies as wifi and cdma and look forward to more expanding coverage across a broad base of ever improving technologies.

Dec 22, 2012 12:59pm EST  --  Report as abuse
zanajohn1 wrote:
DISH/CLWR presents a compelling option to Softbank.
Unlike S which has legacy technology, bureaucracy, unions, and little spectrum, DISH/CLWR present an all ip plant, compatible technology (TD-LTE) and spectrum which permits greater than 2x the internet speeds of any competitor. They also have a nationwide retail (Blockbuster/Clear) and network presence (CLWR). Why take S along for this ride — T and VZ aren’t coming! The future is with CLWR.

Dec 24, 2012 1:49pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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