Dish Moves Away From Spectrum Dependence

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- When Dish Network (DISH), the satellite TV company, last June abandoned plans to build a vast mobile network through a Clearwire acquisition, its stock was trading at about $40. It opened Friday at $56.77.

Since June, Dish has released the hounds of innovation, culminating in a flurry of announcements at this week's Consumer Electronics Show that reporters are only starting to analyze:

  • Dish gave its Hopper DVR a series of add-ons dubbed the Joey Troop. (The Hopper's symbol is a kangaroo, and a joey is a baby kangaroo.) They let users connect devices and other TVs to the DVR via WiFi, and enable the recording of up to 8 shows at once. The "Super Joey" offering got an "editor's choice" award at the show, according to Dish

  • Dish made a deal with Sony (SNE) that lets PlayStation 3 and 4 owners control their Hoppers through the Super Joey app. 

  • Dish announced it is picking up a new Internet-delivered network from World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) due for launch in February. The $9.95-a-month offering is a move away from pay-per-view, and away from dependence on cable or satellite for carriage.

Dish stock fell Thursday after the company dropped its plans to acquire LightSquared, a bankrupt holder of shared spectrum, right before a court hearing focused on Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen's purchase of LightSquared's debt. 

Dish still holds some mobile spectrum, which it plans to build out, and T-Mobile USA's (TMUS) recent purchase of spectrum from Verizon (VZ) has one analyst estimating the value of Dish's holdings in this area at $21.4 billion. Dish's total market cap is around $26 billion.

But the company's growth may no longer be tied to spectrum ownership. Instead Dish is making extensive use of unlicensed WiFi frequencies and going "over the top" of cable, using the wired Internet, in order to deliver more channels to subscribers.

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