Dish Network’s Blockbuster will begin selling mobile phones in its movie rental stores as a test for Dish’s planned entry into the wireless biz, according to a Bloomberg report. Dish has planned on using Blockbuster stores to sell phones since buying the chain in April 2011, Chairman and co-founder Charlie Ergen said in October. The stores continue to rent and sell DVDs, and Dish already uses the locations to market its satellite-TV service.
Blockbuster recently started selling phones on its website under the banner “Blockbuster Mobile,” working with carriers such as Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile. The effort will soon shift to Blockbuster’s roughly 850 retail locations, said the story.
For Dish, the move may be a prelude to offering its own mobile-phone service. Dish has acquired a swath of wireless airwaves and is awaiting rules from the FCC governing how it can use them.
Dish’s airwaves were purchased last year from DBSD North America and TerreStar Networks for about $3 billion.
Dish has closed about half of the 1,700 Blockbuster stores it acquired when it bought the company out of bankruptcy last year. When Blockbuster was owned by Viacom in 2004, it operated about 9,000 locations.