Analyst: Dish Network should partner with Sprint for satellite LTE-Advanced network

Dish Network, which earlier this week asked the FCC for a waiver to allow it to build an LTE-Advanced network in the S-band satellite spectrum, could enlist the help of Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S) to get the plan off the ground and save billions of dollars, according to Credit Suisse analyst Jonathan Chaplin.

"It makes the most sense for Dish to partner with Sprint," Chaplin told Bloomberg. "It gets Dish into the market at a much lower cost."

A Sprint spokesman told Bloomberg that Sprint is open to additional mobile-broadband partnerships after signing a 15-year, $9 billion deal with LightSquared last month to share expansion costs and equipment. That deal, of course, is contingent on LightSquared gaining approval from the FCC to deploy an LTE network in the satellite L-band amid concerns that is operations would interfere with GPS signals.

Chaplin estimates that Dish would need $6.1 billion to build its own network infrastructure compared with $2 billion to pay Sprint to set up a network. Moreover, operating a network would cost Dish $2.7 billion a year, compared with $1.1 billion a year to pay Sprint to do it, said the analyst.

Dish Network wants the FCC to allow it to combine the S-Band spectrum licensees it acquired from TerreStar Networks and DBSD North America and grant it a waiver to offer terrestrial-only devices to customers on a proposed hybrid satellite-terrestrial mobile broadband network using LTE-Advanced network technology.

Still, LTE-Advanced isn't expected to come to market until 2014, and Dish must work with the FCC to not only get the waiver but also determine a buildout time line.

For more:
- see this Bloomberg article

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