Skip to main content

DirecTV, Dish Offer Wireless Net Access Through McCaw’s Clearwire

DirecTV and EchoStar Communications are teaming up with wireless high-speed Internet provider Clearwire to offer satellite customers a three-service bundle of video, voice and data.

The nation’s two largest direct-broadcast satellite providers struck a distribution agreement with Clearwire that is expected to enable each of the three companies to offer bundled services in all current and future Clearwire markets. The launch is planned for later this year.

The deal -- a sign that rivals EchoStar and DirecTV may cooperate on other ventures to compete against cable providers -- contemplates that Clearwire will be able to provide the video services of one or both satellite companies to its customers.

Clearwire launched its first market in August 2004 and now offers service in 39 U.S. markets, covering about 9.9 million people in more than 420 municipalities in 13 states, as well as about 1.2 million people in Ireland and Belgium with its network.

Under the terms of the distribution agreements, DirecTV and EchoStar will have access to Clearwire’s wireless high-speed network and will be able to market a bundle that includes Clearwire’s high-speed-Internet services to their residential customers.

DirecTV and EchoStar will also have the ability to sell Clearwire’s branded services on a stand-alone basis. Similarly, the agreements call for Clearwire to be able to sell DirecTV and EchoStar satellite-video services.

“Being able to offer services on the Clearwire network will give our customers another high-quality option to subscribe to broadband services with DirecTV’s video offerings,” DirecTV president of new enterprises Bruce Churchill said in a prepared statement. “By choosing this bundle option, DirecTV customers will now be able to enjoy Clearwire’s fast, reliable and secure wireless-broadband network that works great at home and on the go.”

Clearwire, founded in October 2003 by cellular phone pioneer Craig McCaw, is a provider of wireless high-speed-Internet service.

Assuming closing of all pending spectrum purchases, Clearwire’s spectrum portfolio covers about 223 million people in the United States with varying amounts of spectrum.

“EchoStar is committed to providing the best quality and latest in cutting-edge digital programming and, with Clearwire, we continue that commitment by offering a next-generation wireless-broadband technology,” Nolan Daines, EchoStar’s senior vice president of strategic initiatives, said in a prepared statement. “Our ability to offer Clearwire’s broadband service is a strong competitive alternative that we believe will help increase our subscriber base.”