Exclusive: Dish plans ‘big’ foray into wireless business, document says



Dish Network (DISH) is planning to become the only provider to offer wireless voice, video and data services, Yahoo Finance has learned.

The No. 2 U.S. satellite television provider shockedthe wireless industry earlier this year when it scored almost half of the spectrum licenses offered in a U.S. government auction. Other players were more traditional telecommunications providers, such as AT&T (T), Verizon Communications (VZ) and T-Mobile (TMUS).  Dish is estimated to own about $50 billion in wireless spectrum, according to Bloomberg.

Now, the Englewood, Colorado-based company’s ambitions are coming into clearer focus. A document obtained by Yahoo indicates Dish is seeking a chief marketing officer to help guide its move into the fiercely competitive wireless space.

“We are preparing for something big,” the document said, later proclaiming, “This is an incredibly exciting time in our history. We have reinvented ourselves in the past and we are preparing to do it again.”

The document that is labeled “confidential,” goes on to say the new CMO “will be an integral part of the team that changes entertainment forever as Dish enters the wireless business and becomes the only provider that can offer wireless voice, video and data.”

The individual will report to COO Bernie Han, and will also work closely with CEO Charlie Ergen, the document said. It’s unclear exactly what will come of current CMO James Moorhead.

Dish representatives did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the matter.

‘Options open’

Dish has provided hints about its wireless plans, but it’s been coy about the specific details.

In Dish’s first-quarter conference call Monday, Ergen responded to a question about whether T-Mobile would be a natural partner by saying, “We’re keeping all of our options open, but obviously we admire what John [Legere] and his team have done at T-Mobile, and certainly we follow what they do.”

Ergen went on to explain he sees the cloud as the next frontier, saying, “…it’s not just wireless spectrum and video. It’s going to be all kinds of other peripheral things that are all going to come together.”

The broadcast industry, of course, is going through massive change as some audiences move to non-traditional rivals such as Netflix (NFLX), Hulu and Amazon Prime (AMZN). Dish shed a net 134,000 pay-TV customers in the first quarter, though, analysts largely pinned the drop on recent disputes with major TV programmers.

The wireless industry, too, is highly competitive, with AT&T, Verizon, Sprint (S) and T-Mobile vying for business. Search behemoth Google (GOOGL) has also recently revealed plans to launch its own wireless service that will piggyback on other providers.

The segment is experiencing rapid expansion, with ABI Research forecasting average monthly data consumed per wireless subscriber surging some 400% between 2014 and 2019. Meanwhile, the share of download traffic used for video and TV streaming is seen climbing from 50% to 70% over the same time period.

Dish shares have fallen 9.6% this year, but are up 8% over the past 12 months, according to data from FactSet Research Systems. That compares to a 1.9% year-to-date advance for the S&P 500, and a 10.6% 12-month gain for the broad-market index.





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