Over the last week I have been among those speculating that DISH Network (NASDAQ:DISH) might step into the wireless spectrum debate as a way to create a "triple play" of satellite, broadband and wireless with which to sell Blockbuster movies.
I was 100% wrong on this one.
Apparently DISH is moving in the opposite direction.
DISH CEO Charlie Ergen confirmed yesterday that he's backing away from his ambitious plans for Blockbuster, which he bought out of bankruptcy last year. He thinks he can make up the purchase price by selling out of the remaining store leases, but now says the government's refusal to allow a direct link between satellite and terrestrial broadband, and its refusal to approve LightSquared, basically put a period on the whole idea.
Sprint (NYSE:S) has recently been hinting it would back away from its objections to DISH's idea under certain conditions but that is beginning to look like too little, too late. In fact DISH now seems anxious to unload its spectrum.
All this should be bearish not only for DISH, but for Sprint and Metro PCS (PCS) as well. If DISH were interested in wireless, it could have represented another bidder for PCS, and maybe even a buyer for Sprint. With the company now backing away from terrestrial wireless, it's hard to see who else might become a bidder.