Verizon Wireless is very interested in buying Dish Network’s spectrum, The NY Post has learned. A top Verizon executive told a group of insiders in the last few weeks that the country’s No. 1 wireless carrier was eyeing the lucrative spectrum owned by Dish, a banker with direct knowledge of the conversation said.
Analysts have estimated Dish’s spectrum could be worth as much as $17 billion.
A second source close to the companies said the two companies have held informal, early talks about the spectrum.
Verizon’s appetite comes only weeks after it tried to quiet deal rumors.
CEO Lowell McAdam on 5/20 said during an investor conference that Verizon was not interested in buying Dish.
“I don’t think owning a satellite company is something I’m interested in at this point,” McAdam said.
However, he did not address Dish’s valuable spectrum.
Acquiring the bandwidths would help Verizon better stream videos in urban areas. Plus, much of Dish’s spectrum is complementary to spectrum Verizon presently owns, a source told the NY Post.
Much of Dish’s spectrum is important for short-range Wi-Fi communications.
The pressure may be building for Verizon to act soon.
The FCC last month set guidelines for selling government-owned spectrum and imposed rules that would make it harder — and more expensive — for the New York telecom to compete in those fall auctions.
Buying Ergen’s spectrum would be a way to avoid that process.
Verizon might also be pushed to act sooner rather than later because, according to a recent analyst report, Dish soon might make a bid for T-Mobile, taking its spectrum off the market.
JPMorgan analyst Philip Cusick also put forward the possibility a few days ago that Dish might buy T-Mobile.
If he sold his spectrum for $17 billion, Dish’s shares could rise from $59.81, their closing price on 6/19, to roughly $70 a share, a source told the paper.
Also, Ergen has until spring 2017 to connect 40% of his spectrum, or will need to return it to Washington.
It would cost Dish more than $10 billion to activate all of its spectrum.
Dish is presently rolling out a wireless fixed broadband service in Corpus Christi, Texas, that is rather antiquated and shows a lack of commitment to building a true wireless service, one source said.