Dish and Sprint to Test Wireless Broadband

OVERLAND PARK, KANS. and ENGLEWOOD, COLO. — Sprint and Dish Network have announced plans to jointly test a fixed wireless broadband service in Corpus Christi, Texas. The service is to become available on a trial basis in mid-2014 in limited areas of Corpus Christi, with a plan to expand into additional markets in the future.

Dish said that, “Depending on a customer’s location, Dish will install either a ruggedized outdoor router or an indoor solution to deliver the best possible broadband service to that site. Both solutions will feature built-in high-gain antennas to receive the 4G TDD-LTE signal on Sprint’s 2.5 GHz spectrum.”

The companies have joined forces after battling over acquisitions in the last year. Dish tried to buy Sprint and was routed by Softbank of Japan, which bought Sprint in June for $21.6 billion and beat out Dish for Clearwire last summer.

Marci Ryvicker of Wells Fargo said the cost of the broadband trial would be “immaterial” to Dish.

“While financial details were not disclosed, we would reiterate that Dish is not building a network— the company is simply using its installers to deploy routers/antennas in/on customer homes,” she wrote in an analyst note.

Ryvicker also said that this would be Dish’s second fixed-wireless trial, the first one being with nTelos, announced in October. That trial is to cover Roanoke, Staunton, Waynesboro and Charlottesville, Va. Dish and nTelos are targeting an early 2014 rollout targeting 500,000 houses, she said.

“These homes represent an excellent expansion market for Dish’s HSD services, in our view, either through a fixed wireless broadband product … or DishNet,” which launched on Oct. 2, 2012, she said. “While this trial does not utilize Dish’s AWS-4 spectrum, an identical service using Dish’s band could be done quite quickly.

“To us, the biggest takeaway is that Dish and Sprint have partnered, indicating that the relationship between the two companies has immensely improved since this year’s earlier tensions. We view this partnership as a positive, and a potential start to a new relationship.”

Dish shares (NASDAQ: DISH) jumped nearly 3 percent, from less than $54 to more than $55 on the news.