Sprint (NYSE:S) recently showed interest in forming a partnership with Dish Network (NASDAQ:DISH), offering its network for Dish to host its recently acquired spectrum from DBSD and TerreStar.  Due to the current spectrum shortage, it appears that Dish’s spectrum assets are in high demand, and the satellite operator may have a clear choice in choosing a partner. Whether it will be Sprint, AT&T (NYSE:T), Verizon (NYSE:VZ) or T-Mobile, we don’t know. But what we do know is that Dish might be better off forming a partnership rather than investing heavily in building out the whole network infrastructure.
Dish is still awaiting a waiver from the FCC before it can start deploying a 4G LTE network – the latest, fourth generation cellular technology. This can take time, and if the company tries to do everything on its own it may find it hard to compete against other major wireless carriers who would have advanced significantly by the time Dish is granted the waiver. Unfortunately for Dish, the timing of its spectrum acquisitions has made it a late entrant into the LTE arena.
Nevertheless, if Dish decides to increase capital expenditures to build its own network, this would lead to reduced cash flows in the near term and a lack of confidence among investors regarding Dish’s ability to pull it off. This can hurt the stock and the company alike. In fact, piloting the program of launching its own wireless broadband, and possibly voice service, will be cheaper and safer if the company enters into a partnership to host its spectrum.
We believe that Dish is likely to market this new service under its own brand to create a sense of unified brand for all services.
Our price estimate for Dish Network stands at $31, implying a discount of roughly 5% to the market price.Notes: