| April 15
April 15 Dish Network Corp's offer for
Sprint Nextel Corp holds the promise of upending U.S.
mobile video services, further stoking the deal frenzy among
telecommunication companies and pay-TV providers.
Charlie Ergen, the colorful chairman of Dish who
orchestrated the surprise counter-bid on Monday, said that by
marrying the No. 2 satellite TV carrier with the No. 3 mobile
services provider, the combined company would be able to offer
"Obviously (the deal) would be unique in being able to offer
video more robustly than the competition in part because of our
broadcast spectrum. We have twice as much spectrum as anyone
else," Ergen said in an interview with Reuters.
Dish on Monday outlined the benefits of the deal, including
a quad-play package: customers would have access to a bundled
subscription of video, data and Internet services in, as well as
outside, the home.
The move is designed to capitalize on the growing popularity
of smartphones and tablets, which depend on wireless carriers
and Internet providers and are increasingly used to check social
media sites like Twitter and Facebook, watch TV shows and
YouTube videos, or read newspapers, magazines or books.
"The quad play certainly becomes relevant with streaming
mobile video on the HD side," said Wunderlich Securities analyst
Matt Harrigan. "It has an appeal that it didn't have before."
TWISTS AND TURNS
Japan's SoftBank Corp made an offer to buy Sprint
in October. Dish's counter-offer for Sprint is the latest turn
over the past year that has seen a boom of deals in a scramble
for valuable spectrum.
Dish said in a presentation to investors Monday that
combining with Sprint would allow it to offer bundled
subscription packages unlike those from its competitors, Comcast
Corp, Verizon Communications, AT&T and DirecTV
Verizon has its own quad-play package, but it is limited in
scope, reaching only about 16 percent of the pay-TV market, said
Harrigan. Dish's large chunk of spectrum would allow it to
increase the market size and offer bigger data plans for
Verizon spokesman Bob Varettoni declined to comment.
"The idea that Dish can take this huge spectrum holding and
pretty quickly put it to use as a mobile services product really
adds a new competitor element to the landscape," said Bill
Menezes, principal research analyst at Gartner.
Still, competing cable carriers have tried a different tact.
Comcast Corp and Time Warner Cable sold their spectrum
to Verizon last year, and in doing so, appeared to abandon any
plans to offer a wireless service on their own.
As part of that deal, Verizon and the cable companies agreed
to sell each others' service in markets where they don't
"They declared peace," Ergen said about that agreement. "The
good old boys clubbed it up together and split it up. We say,
the consumer doesn't want that split up, the consumer wants that
all in the same manner."
If the Dish purchase of Sprint does happen, it could prompt
other media players to rethink whether they need to bolster
their product offerings. AT&T Inc, for example, has been
on the hunt for more spectrum, and for years rumors have swirled
that it would merge with Dish.
Now, Dish's potential tie-up with Sprint turns up the heat
on AT&T, which could make an offer to buy Dish, suggested BTIG
analyst Walter Piecyk.
"If you are a competitor and you don't make a move it's a
lost opportunity," Piecyk said.
AT&T spokesman Mark Siegel declined to comment on
speculation that AT&T might try and buy Dish.