“Get Charlie on the phone!”

The barriers to entry into the satellite business are legendary, but I suppose you could pull it off if you have a really good business plan — and the right people to execute it. Sure, it would take a few years to get off the ground (pun intended).

However, it assumes you have what the whole business depends on: spectrum. That’s right, we’re talking about radio spectrum. Without that, you don’t have a business. Trouble is, spectrum is a scarce resource — there only so much to go around. Unlike time, which is the scarcest resource because you can’t make more of it, additional spectrum becomes available once the FCC (U.S.) or ITU (Globally) determines available spectrum is fully utilized. Or someone makes a business case, with supporting technology, for using new spectrum. Case in point: modern DBS services using the Ku-band. DirecTV and DISH Network are generating significant cash flow, they employ lots of people and serve millions with excellent TV services.

So what do you do will all that money besides reinvesting in your own business? You buy — or lease — more spectrum. Does it have to be satellite? No. Evidence abounds that the folks at DISH Network get it. Charlie’s been acquiring spectrum at a discount and now people are justifiably speculating that AT&T wants it — especially after the T-Mobile acquisition went kaput.

This isn’t a poker game — more like chess. Charlie’s a few moves ahead of us here, so you’ll likely see a few key moves in the coming days, weeks or months. AT&T may buy DISH Network. A partnership between DISH Network and T-Mobile is a real possibility.

AT&T still has tons of bandwidth around the country, but what good is that if you can’t get more wireless spectrum?

Remember the old adage “content is king?” Well, in the wireless business, “spectrum is king.”


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