After failing to acquire T-Mobile late last year, AT&T is reportedly short of additional wireless spectrum. In the LTE race, the company is severely behind Verizon, leaving Ma Bell desperate to catch up. That’s why rumors of a Dish Network acquisition have been popping up. AT&T has reportedly been eyeing up the U.S.’ second largest cable provider, with an incredibly high premium on the line. So far, though, nothing has materialized. But that doesn’t mean AT&T isn’t actively trying to woo Dish.
A post on Deadline reveals that AT&T sent a letter to the FCC late last week, possibly hinting at future transaction with Dish. The letter itself is technical, but Deadline breaks it down:
Regulators are considering whether to grant Dish additional time to provide broadband services on some spectrum it wants to buy. Without a waiver, Dish would have to serve 100M people within three years. AT&T urged regulators to reject Dish’s plea, saying that the public would benefit from the fast build out while a delay would ‘confer a substantial windfall on Dish.’
Credit Suisse’s Stefan Anninger says that if the government agrees with AT&T’s assessment, the satellite provider will be more likely to sell/deal its spectrum, and AT&T would be interested in “increasing its negotiating leverage when it comes to a potential transaction negotiation with Dish.”
Breen Murray Carret analyst Todd Mitchell feels this is more of a last ditch effort on AT&T’s part to allocate much needed spectrum, and wouldn’t take such a hostile approach. Therefore, AT&T’s letter to the FCC is “a clear indication that an AT&T acquisition of Dish is not in the cards in the immediate future.”
In any case, AT&T is clearly on the hunt for spectrum allocation. The wireless company has only just rolled out its 4G LTE network, while Verizon’s LTE is currently spread across 195 markets across the U.S. It will be interesting to see what moves AT&T makes as the months roll by.