Seeking to compete with wired cable providers on every level, both DirecTV and EchoStar have signed distribution agreements enable both satellite companies to offer wireless high-speed Internet service to their customers via Clearwire Corporation. It is also contemplated that Clearwire, in turn, will be able to offer the video services of one or both satellite companies to its customers. This is expected to enable each of the three companies to offer high-speed Internet, video and voice in all current and future Clearwire markets. The launch is planned for later this year.
Under the terms of the distribution agreements, DirecTV and EchoStar's Dish Network will have access to Clearwire's wireless high-speed network, and will be able to market a bundle that includes Clearwire's high-speed Internet services to their residential customers. The satellite TV companies will also have the ability to sell Clearwire's branded services on a stand-alone basis. Similarly, the agreements call for Clearwire to be able to sell DirecTV and EchoStar satellite video services.
Clearwire, founded in October 2003 by Craig McCaw, now offers service in 39 US markets, covering approximately 9.9 million people.