What’s Up with EchoStar Buying Spectrum?

RCR Wireless News columnist Tracy Ford projects that the mobile TV market will probably be a big topic in the coming weeks, now that EchoStar paid $711 million for 168 E-Block licenses in the recently completed 700 MHz spectrum auction:

“The biggest conjecture among the RCR Wireless News editorial staff: AT&T Mobility is holding off on offering MediaFLO TV services because it plans to buy EchoStar and use that spectrum to deploy Sling Media services, effectively giving AT&T the triple play: broadband, TV and mobility.”

They point out that this isn’t as crazy as it sounds, since EchoStar already owns Sling Media, and Sling Media has been releasing phone clients left, right, and sideways.

Ford also said that the mobile TV market still isn’t all that large, and that this play could tip it over the edge into the mainstream. “Although MediaFLO hasn’t released its numbers, some estimates peg it at around 50,000 subscribers, while MobiTV recently said it passed the 3 million mark. That’s not much in a nation where doctors have linked obesity to watching too much TV.”