This was already destined to be an interesting day for Dish Network as it prepares its annual presentation at the International CES confab in Las Vegas to unveil expanded services for its Hopper DVR and Sling Internet streaming box. But the most important development so far was out of its hands: T-Mobile effectively raised the value of airwave spectrum — which Dish has been amassing — by agreeing to a $3.3B deal to acquire a swath of 700 MHz A-Block rights from Verizon. (T-Mobile will pay $2.4B in cash, and swap some of its spectrum valued at $950M.) The transaction should improve T-Mobile’s reach in nine of the 10 largest markets and “represent(s) our biggest move yet in a series of initiatives that are rapidly expanding our already lightning fast network and improving its performance across the country,” says the company’s dynamic CEO John Legere. But the news also nudged up Dish shares to touch $58.48, the highest they’ve been in more than a decade. Using the T-Mobile deal as a benchmark, Dish’s spectrum rights are probably worth $21.4B, Wells Fargo Securities analyst Marci Ryvicker estimates — up from her previous estimate of $14.9B. That “reinforces our belief that there is significant present and future value” in Dish’s holdings, she says. Chairman Charlie Ergen wants to build his own wireless broadband operation and last month announced a plan to team with Sprint for a test this year in Corpus Christi, Texas.
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