Dish Gains as Ergen Seeks Partner for Wireless Network
Dish Network Inc. (DISH) gained the most in almost a month after Chairman Charlie Ergen said he won’t threaten the company’s future with his ambition to build a multibillion-dollar wireless network to become a provider of mobile data and voice provider.
Dish rose 4 percent to $31.93 at the close in New York, the biggest gain since Sept. 5. The Englewood, Colorado-based company’s shares have climbed 12 percent this year.
The second-largest U.S. satellite TV provider is looking for a partner that’s already in the industry to help it build “the best wireless network in the United States,” Ergen said today at a conference in Orlando, Florida. Dish’s billionaire founder calmed investors by reiterating he was unlikely to build a network on his own, said Vijay Jayant, an analyst at ISI Group in New York.
“He stressed that potential partners will evolve as his plans progress, and he kept open the possibility he could sell the spectrum if everything didn’t line up,” Jayant said in an interview. He advises buying Dish shares.
The billionaire Dish founder dismissed any immediate plan to sell the company’s radio spectrum licenses, purchased from bankrupt TerreStar Networks Inc. and DBSD North America Inc. While he won’t be “suicidal” with his plan to build the network, he’s committed to competing with AT&T Inc. (T) and Verizon Wireless if the Federal Communications Commission allows it, he said.
“This is going to be a tough project for us,” Ergen said. “You can’t achieve anything unless you get in the room.”
There are advantages to entering the wireless industry now, including building a so-called long-term evolution network to offer the fastest technology to consumers, Ergen said. Dish, which trails DirecTV (DTV) in U.S. satellite subscribers, wants to combine mobile service with its video and Internet products to give consumers a way to watch TV outside the home.
While the FCC approved Dish’s purchase on March 2, the agency said the company wouldn’t be allowed to use the spectrum for mobile service until regulators have written new rules that allow radio waves in that frequency for voice and data transmission.
Ergen used a meeting yesterday with two FCC commissioners and an aide to FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski to urge the agency to complete the rulemaking “as expeditiously as possible,” according to a filing at the agency.
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