Dish Network, Amazon In Wireless Talks

Amazon would become a foundational customer of the wireless network Dish Network hopes to launch within the next few years. It’s not clear if the discussions also involve an investment by Amazon in Dish Network and/or its potential wireless business.

(Satellite Business News) — In a deal that could link up two of the richest chief executives in the world, Dish Network and Amazon are in talks that would make the giant internet retailer a foundational customer of the wireless network Dish Network hopes to launch within the next few years, Satellite Business News has learned. How close the two companies are to a definitive agreement was not certain as of press time Tuesday night.

It was also not immediately clear if the discussions also involve an investment by Amazon in Dish Network and/or its potential wireless business. By some accounts, Dish Network hopes to make an announcement regarding its wireless relationship with Amazon this week in Dallas during its annual trade show for its independent satellite retailers.

That event begins tonight, though the main session for the show is not scheduled until tomorrow morning. However, Dish Network, it should be noted, has been down to the final strokes of major agreements with other firms in the past, only to see the deals get scuttled at the last minute.

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As such, it is possible a Dish Network-Amazon deal might not be consummated. If it is, it could give Dish Network’s much talked about — and some would argue, struggling — wireless spectrum fortunes a huge boost. As reported, Dish Network has spent $21 billion to acquire wireless spectrum but has no customers, and only a vague outline of a business plan centered on the idea that countless machines and devices will be connected one day under the general term, “the Internet of things.”

Amazon has repeatedly mentioned its interest in introducing new services for its existing and future devices, and maybe looking for a bigger role in determining its wireless fate rather than depending on companies like AT&T and Verizon to connect to its devices and sell its services — such as its streaming offerings.

Amazon is also believed to be interested in developing an online video service which includes live channels, and recently announced an agreement with the NFL to distribute Thursday Night Football games to its best customers on-line next season.

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Such an agreement would also bring together not only two of the wealthiest people on the planet, but two of the most controversial chief executives who are nevertheless viewed by most as among the most visionary, self-made, and hard-driving executives in recent business history: Dish Network co-founder and Chairman Charles William Ergen and Amazon founder and Chairman Jeffrey Bezos. Both also have a reputation as being difficult to negotiate with, which could complicate their discussions.

And, interestingly enough, Dish Network and Amazon have also been labeled as having very rough workplace environments.

The Dish Network retailer event is slated to take place at the Gaylord Texan hotel in Dallas the next three days. For the first time in over a decade, Satellite Business News is not being permitted to cover the show. If some sort of wireless alliance is announced during the convention, satellite dealers and distributors will no doubt want to know if they will play any role in that, but also in Dish Network’s wireless business in general.

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At Dish Network’s dealer show a year ago, Ergen urged the retailers to invest into becoming installers of home wi-fi equipment and networks, off-air TV antennas and similar products that would allow them to move away from being solely reliant on the company’s DBS service for their income. But in the months that followed, Dish Network shut its dealers out of participating in several new, related initiatives it launched — such as the program to sell and install its Air TV video player and an off-air antenna, and its repair of its Samsung washing machines.

That left many dealers bitter, particularly as Dish Network’s DBS service continued to hemorrhage customers and the company’s focus on its Sling TV online video service intensified.

Dish Network does not comment on corporate matters. Amazon has never responded to a single inquiry on any subject from Satellite Business News.

Satellite Business News is the leader in coverage of satellite TV and related fields. Its FaxUPDATE is published three times a week. To subscribe, email [email protected].


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