Dish Network Chairman Charlie Ergen told analysts last month that he might scrap his efforts to buy TerreStar Networks and DBSD North America — which control coveted spectrum licenses — if the FCC didn’t grant a waiver relaxing its build-out requirements. But he just closed the deals, even though he lost that battle as the FCC develops rules for the spectrum that would apply to everybody. Ergen has said that Dish needs spectrum to move away from being just a satellite TV service. If he offers wireless broadband, then it could ensure that he wouldn’t be held hostage by cable operators as Dish-owned Blockbuster develops video streaming initiatives. He can always change his mind: If Ergen wants to get rid of the spectrum, AT&T or DirecTV probably would buy in a heartbeat. Dish shares are down 1.1% in early trading. Here’s the announcement:
ENGLEWOOD, Colo., March 12, 2012 – DISH Network Corporation (NASDAQ: DISH) has closed its acquisitions of the reorganized DBSD North America, Inc., and substantially all of the assets of TerreStar Networks, Inc. DISH has invested more than $3 billion to secure the licenses for this 40 MHz of nationwide 2 GHz wireless spectrum. DISH looks forward to working with the FCC on its forthcoming Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) and remains committed to using this spectrum to help the Administration and the FCC solve the nation’s spectrum crunch. In parallel, DISH will initiate efforts to enhance the performance and capabilities of handsets that utilize the terrestrial and satellite links while exploring its options for a broader market entry.