updated 05:46 pm EST, Fri December 7, 2012
Deal would let Dish offer service over Sprint's network
Sprint, the United States' third-largest wireless carrier, has approached Dish Network about a partnership that would see Dish offering mobile service over Sprint's network. Sources familiar with Sprint's offer say that the deal would give Sprint access to Dish's mobile airwaves, with the two companies sharing revenue from customers signing up for wireless service from Dish. The satellite TV provider has been moving toward wireless service provision for some time, though regulatory obstacles have hindered its progress.
A deal with Sprint would allow Dish Network to enter the mobile phone market without having to build its own network infrastructure. Neither company spoke on the matter with Bloomberg, which reported on the talks, but Sprint representatives say the company is "open to spectrum-hosting opportunities with other spectrum holders who can't or don't want" to build their own network.
For Sprint, the deal would represent a means to draw revenue from the 14 million current Dish Network customers that the TV provider would attempt to lure into mobile service. Sprint is currently stuck in third place, behind Verizon and AT&T, among US cellular providers. Any deal between the two would have to be approved by Japanese carrier Softbank, which took a controlling stake in Sprint earlier this year.
Even if the Sprint deal does not move forward, Dish Network is already laying the groundwork for a bigger move into mobile service provision. This week, reports emerged that Dish was planning to use the 850 Blockbuster retail locations to sell mobile phones from Verizon Wireless, Sprint, and T-Mobile. Dish has also been rumored to have been in talks with Google over a possible partnership in wireless service.