Say what you will about Dish Network, but the Colorado company’s brass has some moxie.
The satellite media service provider has been trying for years now to link up with notable national wireless carrier to help operate a mobile service to sell alongside its current offerings, and according to a recent report from Bloomberg, Dish Network chairman Charlie Ergen has approached T-Mobile parent company Deutsche Telekom about the possibility of a Dish/T-Mobile merger.
In case you haven’t been keeping tabs on Dish’s potential push into the wireless market, the saga has enough bumps and twists to rival a soap opera. This is far from the first time that representatives of the company have made these sorts of overtures towards major wireless carriers and their parent businesses. Just prior to the collapse of the AT&T/T-Mobile merger in December 2011, Dish Network CEO Joseph Clayton pointed out the possibility of striking a deal with T-Mobile in a bid to bolster Dish’s coffers and light up its own wireless service.
“We want to use it to create a national wireless network, video, voice and data,” Clayton told Bloomberg at the time. “The voice part, we’ll need some help with.”
In the event that the merger didn’t pan out (and we all know how that went), Clayton also said that Dish had considered a similar partnership with the folks at Sprint. Despite later rumors that AT&T was considering a Dish acquisition because it was just so hard up for spectrum access, Dish opted to make an unsolicited $5.15 billion offer to ailing network operator Clearwire… less than a month after Sprint announced that it would purchase the parts of Clearwire it didn’t already own for $2.2 billion. At this point the three parties are still trying to hash things out, but things don’t look too promising for Dish — Clearwire has accepted $160 million from Sprint over the last two months, though that doesn’t necessarily mean that Dish is officially out of the running.
That said, Ergen doesn’t seemed gutted by the prospect of losing against Sprint for control of Clearwire. “If for some reason Clearwire is not an option for us because that’s just the way the circumstances go, then we think we have other alternatives,” he noted during Dish’s most recent earnings call. Chairman Ergen and CEO Clayton have done well to set up as many contingencies as they have these past few years, but Dish’s future in mobile is still unclear and it could be months before there’s any more progress to announce.