Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), the No. 1 search engine and successful operator of YouTube, may finally have found a vehicle to establish a national network: a hookup with Dish Network Corp. (Nasdaq: DISH).
Dish Chariman Charlie Ergen, a pioneer broadcaster, acknowleged his company had talked with Google, a report in the Wall Street Journal and several analyst reports said. But it could come to nothing.
Still, a hookup between Google, of Mounain View, Calif., which has made an aggressive push into consumer electronics with its acquisition of Motorola and introduction of the Nexus tablet, and Dish, of Englewood, Colo., would give Google a leg up in communications.
Dish's Ergen and CEO Joe Clayton are legendary in consumer electronics. Clayton has years of TV experience, was the first boss of Sirius Satellite Radio and had worked for TV makers including France's Thomson (Nasdaq: ALA) when it operated the RCA brand.
Dish's Ergen had said previously he would reach out to both Sprint-Nextel Corp. (NYSE: S) and T-Mobile USA to try to obtain more wireless communications spectrum.
Google this week announced it had started to lay fiber-optic cable in a ring around greater Kansas City. Sprint's headquarters is there, in Overland Park, Kans. Last month, Sprint acquired majority control of Clearwire (Nasdaq: CLWR), of Bellevue, Wash., which owns high-speed national transmission spectrum.
Sprint-Nextel, though, has agreed to sell a 70 percent stake to Japan's SoftBank (Tokyo: 9984) over the next year.
Google over the past year has been trying to mount a big campaign for Google TV, using the popularity of YouTube, as well as the site's own success on the Web and mobile sector. Mobile carriers including AT&T (NYSE: T) have boosted charges for their data plans, which may cause spectrum-eating video traffic to slow down.
With cash and investments exceeding $45 billion as of Sept. 30, Google could offer to buy a stake in Dish or another partner. The market capitalization of Dish is about $15 billion. Google paid $12.5 billion for Motorola Mobility Holdings in the second quarter this year.
Still, the company is known to be under investigation for possible antitrust practices by several U.S. government agencies and might be precluded for expanding into new areas.
Shares of Google fell 8 cents to $647.18 in Friday trading. Shares of Dish rose 92 cents to $35.55.