DirectTV, EchoStar Tab Clearwire For Wireless Web

By Clint Boulton

June 15, 2007

Satellite TV giants will offer their customers wireless Internet; Clearwire will tempt users with TV.

Watch out cable: here comes satellite.

Satellite TV giants DirectTV  and EchoStar Communications  said they have agreed to offer their customers Clearwire's  wireless Internet service later this year.

Financial terms of the deal, which also allows Clearwire to offer the video services of one or both satellite companies to its customers, were not made public.

But the deal is highly symbiotic; DirectTV, EchoStar and Clearwire will now all be able to offer customers high-speed Internet, video and voice as they seek to pry market share from Cablevision, Time Warner Cable, Verizon and Comcast. Those vendors have enjoyed great success selling customers cable TV, phone and Internet packages.

Specifically, DirectTV and EchoStar will be able to sell Clearwire's high-speed Internet services to their residential customers as a bundle with their own satellite, or on a standalone basis. In turn, Clearwire can sell its customers DirecTV and EchoStar satellite video services.

"Our ability to offer Clearwire's broadband service is a strong competitive alternative that we believe will help increase our subscriber base," said Nolan Daines, senior vice president of strategic initiatives for EchoStar, in a statement.

Clearwire President and COO Perry Satterlee was similarly buoyed by the deal.

"By expanding the reach of our services through DIRECTV and EchoStar, and by incorporating direct-to-home satellite video services in our own distribution channels, we believe we have an opportunity to significantly expand our business opportunity," Satterlee said in the statement.

Clearwire, launched by cell phone pioneer Craig McCaw, currently has 258,000 subscribers in 39 U.S. markets for its wireless technology, which is not unlike WiMax .

According to the Wall Street Journal, Sprint Nextel is mulling a deal with Clearwire to fortify its $3 billion planned rollout of a wireless network.

DirectTV meanwhile is the nation's leading satellite television service provider, with more than 16 million customers in the United States; EchoStar's Dish Network pipes TV via satellite to roughly 13.4 million customers.

Originally published on .

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