Dish hints at possible wireless plans in AT&T/T-Mobile deal opposition

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Dish Network is the latest company to oppose AT&T's (NYSE:T) proposed $39 billion purchase of T-Mobile USA, but in doing so it also revealed that the satellite TV company may have wireless plans up its sleeve.

According to a filing with the FCC, on July 7 executives from Dish, including Thomas Cullen, the company's executive vice president of sales, marketing and programming, met with Rick Kaplan, the chief of the FCC's wireless telecommunications bureau. During the meeting, Dish made its opposition to the deal clear and said it was doing so because it "would harm competition and consumers by, among other things, potentially discouraging Dish Network from entering the market to provide mobile broadband."

Until now, Dish has been playing coy about any potential wireless ambitions. Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen said earlier this year that the company had no "grand strategy" around wireless spectrum. Dish spokesman Marc Lumpkin said that the company had no timeline on when it will receive approval from the FCC to get the spectrum licenses. "We're reserving our right to be competitive in the future," he told FierceWireless. "We don't have any comment on the future of the licenses."

Dish received final approval last week from a bankruptcy court judge to purchase TerreStar Networks for $1.375 billion. The purchase nearly matches the $1.4 billion Dish will pay for DBSD North America, a transaction that won bankruptcy court approval last month. Together, DBSD and TerreStar each give Dish access to 20 MHz channels of S-band spectrum.

FCC approval of the transfer of spectrum licenses to Dish might not happen until year-end. 

For more:
- see this FCC filing

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Article updated July 11 with comment from Dish Network.