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Dish: Without Wireless Partner, Selling Spectrum an Option

Tue, 02/12/2013 - 10:21am
Andrew Berg

Dish Network Chairman Charlie Ergen reiterated that his company will sell its AWS spectrum, if it can’t find a suitable partner to help it deploy an LTE-Advanced wireless network. 

Ergen made the comments yesterday at the Wall Street Journal’s All Things D conference

The comments come on the heels of Dish’s bid for Cleawire. Dish offered the WiMax carrier $3.30 a share for a minority stake, with stipulations that Clearwire help Dish roll out its wireless network. The stipulations involved in Dish’s offer could make Sprint’s current bid for Clearwire of $2.97 per share a more attractive offer. 

Ergen said that if the bid for Clearwire fails and if no other options remained, the company would  admit we failed and try a new approach…We would hang a ‘for sale’ sign on the spectrum.”

This isn’t the first time Ergan has said he would sell Dish’s spectrum. 

Ergen was vocal throughout the regulatory process about how any further delays in the FCC's approval process would affect his company's plans to put the spectrum to use.

At the PCIA conference in October of 2012, Ergen said he was disappointed at how long it had taken the FCC to act on the matter. Ergen argued that further delays would hurt Dish's ability to compete with operators like AT&T and Verizon Wireless and said the company may be forced to sell the spectrum if it takes any longer.

Dish eventually conceded to designate the lowest 5 MHz of its uplink spectrum (2000-2005 MHz) as an internal terrestrial guard band, provided that safeguards were adopted to ensure that the remaining 15 MHz of its uplink spectrum (2005-2020 MHz) can be utilized as fully and as quickly as possible for mobile broadband.

Since the approval, Dish has come to realize the monumental task of building a wireless network and seems to be leaning heavily towards bringing on a partner. In comments yesterday, Ergan said Dish would like to compete with the major U.S. carriers but added that the “deck is stacked against us,” saying Dish would need more spectrum to truly compete. 

Shares of Dish were down slightly to $36.93 in early trading. 

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