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AT&T may eye Dish Network acquisition for much-needed spectrum

Updated Dec 19th, 2018 7:39PM EST

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AT&T is in such need of spectrum following the collapse of its planned acquisition of T-Mobile USA, that one analyst thinks the carrier may soon seek to acquire Dish Network. “Dish and AT&T aren’t direct competitors, and at the end of the day, the government wants to see spectrum used,” Stifel Nicolaus & Co. analyst Christopher King told Bloomberg Tuesday. “It’s highly unlikely regulators would block two AT&T deals in row,” he added, noting that AT&T is “desperate for spectrum.” AT&T wasn’t the only company eyeing a deal with T-Mobile USA, however; Dish Network chief executive officer Joseph Clayton recently said that his company was interested in working with T-Mobile USA to create a national wireless network of its own. Read on for more.

“We want to use it to create a national wireless network, video, voice and data,” Clayton said earlier this month before AT&T bailed on its plans to purchase T-Mobile USA. “We’ve got expertise in satellite-TV, and we will in satellite broadband. The voice part, we’ll need some help with.”

Dish Network’s discussions about a T-Mobile USA partnership could just be a small move in a larger game of chess. King argued that Dish Network chairman Charlie Ergen might be bluffing about creating a nationwide network in an effort to entice another carrier, such as AT&T, to buy the company.

“This is a perfect opportunity for Charlie to get out,” King said. “He’s talking about building a wireless network or being a competitor to get a better deal from AT&T.”