DISH Network Corp. (DISH - Analyst Report) – the second largest satellite TV operator in the U.S. – plans to ask the Federal Communications Commissions (FCC) for more time to file a petition against the Sprint Nextel Corp. (S - Analyst Report) and Japan's SoftBank Corp. deal, as the latter plans to takeover Sprint.
DISH Network’s decision to oppose SoftBankCorp.’s proposal to buy Sprint’s 70% stake for $20.1 billion has come up as a result of Sprint’s recent plan to buyback Clearwire Corp. for $2.2 billion.
Earlier, in a report presented by the FCC and Citibank in 2010, Clearwire owed 134 MHz of spectrum belonging to 2.5 GHz band. So, the acquisition of Clearwire will not only make Sprint (the third largest carrier in U.S.), the largest Spectrum holder in the U.S. with 185 MHz of combined spectrum but will also widen the gap with two top carriers – Verizon Wireless and AT&T Inc. (T - Analyst Report) with 77 MHz and 83 MHz spectrum, respectively.
DISH Network – already holds 40 MHz of satellite spectrum and recently received – the FCC nod – to utilize those unused spectrum to set up a wireless network. Consequently, the company believes that Sprint’s decision to acquire full stake in Clearwire may not only give access to nearly 134 MHz of spectrum but will also create a much dominant force in the wireless industry.
Moreover, if SoftBank becomes successful in acquiring Sprint, it will give access to nearly 184 MHz of spectrum (51 MHz of Sprint and 134 MHz of Clearwire), hence making a foreign company the largest holder of spectrum, which is also not in the best interest of the country. However, Clearwire’s spectrums are less popular in U.S. market as it uses high frequency band while most smartphone and tablets in the coutry uses low frequency band.
Similar instance took place when the FCC ruled out AT&T’s plan to buyout T-Mobile USA (a U.S. subsidiary of Germany-based Deutsche Telekom), which may result in a monopoly if the deal materialized as AT&T will then become the largest holder of spectrum in the country with nearly 125 MHz spectrum.
So, it is to be seen how the FCC deals with the situation whether to give its approval to improve spectrum shortage crisis or to protect the U.S. wireless market from foreign threats.
We maintain our long-term Neutral recommendation on DISH Network. Currently, it has a short-term Zacks #3 Rank (Hold) on the stock.