Bloomberg News

Dish ‘Could’ Buy, Partner With Wireless Company, CEO Says

September 23, 2011

(Updates with Sprint background in fifth paragraph.)

Sept. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Dish Network Corp., the second- largest U.S. satellite-TV provider, may consider partnering with or buying a wireless carrier such as Sprint Nextel Corp. or Clearwire Corp., Chief Executive Officer Joseph Clayton said.

“We’ll look at partnerships, acquisitions, all of the above,” Clayton said today in an interview in San Francisco. Asked whether that could include buying or partnering with Clearwire or Sprint, he said: “Could be.”

Dish needs a wireless network to utilize the spectrum it has acquired in its deals for DBSD North America Inc. and Terrestar Networks Inc. announced this year. Dish filed for U.S. government permission to offer mobile high-speed Internet service to its customers last month. Government approval would allow the company to build a network.

“There are several missing pieces,” Clayton said. “Wireless infrastructure, additional technology capabilities and even distribution are pieces that we’re still working on. Stay tuned.”

Sprint, the third-largest U.S. wireless carrier, is struggling to compete against larger rivals AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. and has lost money for 15 consecutive quarters. Sprint is in discussions with cable companies, including Comcast Corp. and Time Warner Cable Inc., about an investment in the company, three people familiar with the situation said last month.

Clearwire, the money-losing wireless broadband provider, is searching for new partners as it looks to raise capital to finance a shift to Long-Term Evolution. The company will spend about $600 million to add LTE to its network. Dish is also focused on LTE, said Clayton.

Sprint, based in Overland Park, Kansas, jumped 17 cents, or 5.7 percent, to $3.18 at 4 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. Clearwire, based in Kirkland, Washington, fell 9 cents to $2.41 on the Nasdaq Stock Market. Dish, based in Englewood, Colorado, added $1.36, or 5.4 percent, to $26.76.

--Editors: Ville Heiskanen, Peter Elstrom

To contact the reporters on this story: Alex Sherman in New York at asherman6@bloomberg.net; Cliff Edwards in San Francisco at cedwards28@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Elstrom at pelstrom@bloomberg.net


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