AT&T notified DISH Networks that it will sever their existing resale arrangement at the end of this year. AT&T has been reselling DISH’s video services since 2003 and expanded the relationship further after their Bellsouth acquisition. It’s widely believed that through this move, AT&T is forcing DISH’s hand into a bidding war with DirecTV for a long term resale arrangement with them. AT&T will need a DBS resale partner, just like every major telco in the U.S. currently has. Despite all the hype surrounding U-Verse, AT&T will need a DBS partner to field a competitive triple play bundle for years to come. Even after the current billions of dollars that are committed to U-Verse have been spent, it will still only reach a large minority of AT&T customers. The mid to long term strategy for AT&T and other telcos is to use DBS to fill the gaps. Of course, AT&T may have something else up its sleeve as well – a possible acquisition of DirecTV. Is this DISH development a pre-emptive merger move, with DirecTV being the acquisition prize?
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