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Dish Could Look to Silicon Valley for Wireless Partners

Dish (DISH) is sitting on a trove of wireless spectrum licenses and Wall Street wants to know what the pay-TV company is going to do with it.  

Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen suggested during a Monday earnings call that partners to deploy the spectrum could include traditional telecoms including T-Mobile USA (TMUS)  . However, regulatory and business forces could lead Silicon Valley to seek out wireless partnerships with companies like Dish. While Ergen did not identify potential partners, Facebook (FB) and Amazon (AMZN)  came up during the discussion as two tech firms that could benefit from a wireless connection. 

Shares of Dish dropped 2.3% to $62.93 on Monday following its earnings report. The company said it earned 76 cents per share in the first quarter, topping forecasts of 70 cents per share, according to FactSet. However, sales of $3.68 billion missed forecasts of $3.76 billion. 

A confluence of factors could push big tech companies into wireless, Ergen suggested.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai has proposed unwinding net neutrality regulations, which prevents blocking or prioritizing traffic online. The move would shift power to the network operators like AT&T (T) , Comcast (CMCSA) and Verizon (VZ) , and away from the Facebook, Netflix (NFLX) , Amazon and others that sell ads, content and products online. 

Meanwhile, the importance of being connected to the Internet is growing. “One or more people from Silicon Valley will look at [wireless] more seriously,” Ergen predicted, “not just because of perhaps net neutrality regulations being weakened but because their business depends on connectivity.”

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has noted the heightened role that connectivity plays in the social media company’s plans, Ergen noted.


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