Last week, there was talk that Dish Network and Amazon were engaging in discussions for a potential partnership, a move that just might begin to challenge the dominance of the Big Four carriers in the United States (namely Verizon Wireless, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint) as well as those cable companies who are already entering into the wireless industry. According to speculation, it is quite possible that Dish could take capex from Amazon in order to start setting up its network (which is said to focus on the Internet of Things), or the two business entities could enter into an agreement that sees the satellite TV provider provide wireless services to subscribers of Amazon’s Prime service (for an extra charge, that is).
Because Dish Network happens to possess a considerable portfolio of spectrum assets, some have begun to believe that the satellite TV giant is eyeing to join forces with a mobile service provider, or at least a company with plans of becoming one. Indeed, apart from its rich cache of midband spectrum, Dish also spent $6.2 billion in acquiring 486 licenses during the recent incentive auction of 600 MegaHertz airwaves. Many industry watchers believe, however, that there is pressure on Dish Network to start making full use of its spectrum, mainly due to buildout mandates from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). True enough, back in March early this year, the company had revealed that it was planning to create a narrow band Internet of Things (NB-IoT) network. As for Amazon, while it has experimented with wireless projects before, it has not made a big move to enter into the wireless business yet. But recent efforts do suggest that it might be getting ready -- as a matter of fact, this year saw the e-commerce giant submit an application to the FCC for Special Temporary Authority status, in order to be able to start initiating trials using prototype equipment and spectrum frequencies, including parts of the 700, 800, and 1900 MegaHertz bands.
So, is it likely for both companies to partner soon? According to Kannan Venkateshwar, an analyst from Barclays, a direct acquisition (with Amazon as the buyer) would not be likely. Venkateshwar further pointed out if Amazon made a move to acquire Dish, it would now attract attention from the FCC.
Still, Dish Network remains an attractive target. Some analysts say that AT&T would be a fitting buyer, because it could readily integrate Dish into its existing DirecTV brand. And other cable companies would really love to get their hands on Dish’s spectrum.
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