One industry analyst believes so. On the hunch that AT&T could purchase EchoStar Communications, Thomas Eagan of Oppenheimer & Co. upgraded the satellite TV distribution company to a "buy." That was enough to see EchoStar's stock rally up as high as 6.2% in late afternoon trading to some $46.18 a share.
The analyst said AT&T's TV service, U-Verse, has been behind the eight ball--over-budget, behind schedule and lagging to its phone competitor Verizon Communications' FiOS system. AT&T U-Verse has some 100,000 subscribers. Verzion's FiOS has some 600,000 subscribers.
AT&T could make a big leap in buying up EchoStar, which has some 13 million U.S. subscribers.
For some time now, business analysts have been salivating over the possible combination of TV satellite businesses and the newfangled Internet-delivered TV services.
At the same time, there were other noises at EchoStar. This week, it agreed to buy Sling Media, a video technology company that streams television into computers through Internet access, for $380 million.
Also this week, EchoStar said it was considering splitting the company into two--one which would be primarily be the highly profitable Dish Network TV satellite programming service; the other of technology assets, including Sling Media, its set-top-box business, corporate satellite services and international operations.