In early 2003, when DirecTV was in play, one of the rumored bidders was SBC. It was seen as a way for SBC to quickly add video to their bundle and offer a triple play (voice, video, data) in an era before everyone was looking at the quadruple play (with wireless). However, as the price went up, SBC dropped out of the bidding letting News Corp. buy the satellite TV company. A few months later, SBC invested in EchoStar instead and formed a partnership to offer DISH network programming to its customers. Of course, the satellite partnerships from telcos were never real triple play offerings. They don't offer the same synergies of a real telco controlled video offering -- which is why the telcos have all been looking at IPTV offerings, despite the heavy upfront investments required. However, now there's talk that AT&T (same thing as SBC, remember) is possibly kicking the tires for an EchoStar acquisition so they could own DISH outright. The article gives plenty of good reasons why this might not make sense, but never underestimate the egos of the folks in charge when it comes to acquisitions. That said, however, it does seem like a bad idea all around. Beyond the integration issues (and the cost of managing the birds in the sky along with all the terrestrial wires), it could create serious political problems internally between the believers in IPTV and the satellite TV folks. It would seem like the only way this would really make sense is if AT&T has given up on really getting IPTV to work in any reasonable amount of time -- which could mean bad things for the entire IPTV marketplace (especially Microsoft and Verizon, both of whom are betting heavily on IPTV).
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