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Ergen to cash in $20bn ‘spare spectrum’?

Echostar and Dish TV founder Charlie Ergen briefed some 80 media and telecoms analysts at a meeting in Denver and left them of the opinion that once this current FCC spectrum auction wraps up Ergen is likely to begin substantive discussions about monetising his huge investment in wireless bandwidth.

According to Wells Fargo Bank media analyst Marci Ryvicker “transformational talks” can begin between wireless operators and Ergen’s team as to the next steps, which she says could mean building a network with a partner, leasing the spectrum controlled by Ergen to a third party, or simply selling the bandwidth off completely.

Some analysts suggest that Ergen’s accumulate wireless spectrum could be worth as much as $20 billion, and this news has helped drive Dish’s stock price up 22 per cent since May 5th (and up 5.5 per cent on June 2nd to $53.60).

Ergen is obliged under FCC rules to start developing the spectrum soon, or else risk forfeiting the assets.

Last February Ergen said his spectrum could be used to build a 5G network, although probably not a new nationwide service. “The nice thing about the spectrum build-out is I think that’s interesting is we’re starting to spend a lot more time looking at 5G because you’re probably — realistically when you look at our spectrum being used, it’s most likely to be used in a 5G format by however it gets used and however it gets built out, and so those timelines kind of match up,” Ergen said, speaking at Dish’s quarterly conference call with analysts.

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