Report after report points to AT&T marrying Dish Network after Ma Bell’s forced break up with T-Mobile, but given the companies’ increasing belligerence, you wouldn’t think that was the case. What we’re witnessing here is some very cynical pre-nuptial gamesmanship.
The Wall Street Journal has an eye-catching (if brief) post today documenting Dish Network CEO Joe Clayton’s claims the company has no interest in selling itself or its wireless spectrum. Dish Network has been at the center of much speculation when it comes to spectrum, particularly in the wake of AT&T’s failure to acquire T-Mobile USA. Dish is moving ahead with plans to build out a terrestrial network operating consumer handsets and other devices, and it claims it could have a nationwide network within three years after the FCC gives the nod. But the mobile game is very tough on new entrants, as Cox Communications can attest. So I still expect Dish to partner with an established mobile player as it moves beyond its traditional satellite TV business.
In the wake of its failed acquisition of T-Mobile USA, analysts are speculating where AT&T can find enough spectrum to keep pace with Verizon Wireless. But instead AT&T should be scrambling to ensure that it makes the most of the spectrum it does have.
Bloomberg has the scoop that Dish Network will look to partner with T-Mobile USA should AT&T’s proposed acquisition fail. That failure appears increasingly likely, of course, with today’s news that both carriers joined the Justice Department in asking to postpone the antitrust case against the takeover. Dish Network has the valuable spectrum that T-Mobile needs to remain a viable player as we enter the 4G era, and it clearly wants to enter the mobile space. This potential tie-up is definitely one to keep an eye on as AT&T’s effort stalls.