Dish, Sprint Merger Could Do for Video What's Never Been Done Before

Making a case for a Sprint merger, Dish execs said they envision offering high-speed video, data, broadband and voice inside the home and out.

Dish Network executives made a compelling argument, during an April 15 conference call, a transcript for which was filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission April 18, for why Sprint should walk away from its nearly complete $20.1 billion deal with Japanese wireless carrier Softbank and instead accept the $25.5 billion merger that Dish, the nation's third-largest cable TV provider, proposed April 15.

The deal is sweetened (or complicated) by the fact that Sprint, which owns roughly half of 4G WiMax provider Clearwire, is currently in the process of trying to buy the half it doesn't own. That process was slowed down in January when Dish Network, again, jumped in with a late bid. Dish offered a higher price but more complicated terms, and while the deal seems likely to work out in Sprint's favor, Dish's offer, awkwardly, is still being considered.

During the call, Dish Chairman Charlie Ergen said that Dish is consulting with Sprint and Clearwire on how they want to proceed, and that its offer to Sprint isn't contingent upon Sprint's deal with Clearwire going through.

If Dish's actions seem erratic, Dish executives have previously said to trust that there's a "Seinfeld strategy" at play.

"The building blocks that we've been putting in place over the years are like a Seinfeld show in the sense that in the first 28 minutes you see a lot different things that don't make sense in that show, and in the last two minutes they all kind of come together," Ergen said, again explaining the strategy.

"This is the culmination of a lot of years of work, where we've been putting a lot of things in place, whether it would be the purchase of spectrum, entering auctions, the acquisition of Sling Media, all those things come together now with the merger with Sprint, to put it into a total and make it a very unique, powerful company," Ergen continued.

Those accumulated puzzle pieces are a big part of Dish's answer to why Sprint should choose it over Softbank.

While Softbank has money and 4G expertise, a combined Dish-Sprint would be more than a traditional carrier but able to offer broadband, programming and wireless phone services.

Dish would be bringing 45MHz of unencumbered spectrum "to the party," said Egan, along with 14 million subscribers, $24 billion of "new opportunity synergies" and its $25 billion offer, which includes more cash than the Softbank offer.