EchoStar formed a subsidiary for some of its wireless spectrum licences following a merger with Dish Network, part of a plan to unlock financial and operating flexibility.

Dish Network transferred some of its unencumbered wireless spectrum licences including AWS-4, H-Block, CBRS, C-Band, 12GHz, LMDS, 24GHz, 28GHz, 37GHz, 30GHz and 47GHz, into EchoStar Wireless Holding.

The operator retained licences covering 600MHz, 700MHz, 3.45GHz and AWS-3.

Loans valued at approximately $4.7 billion will now be paid by Dish Network to EchoStar subsidiary EchoStar Intercompany Receivable.

Bloomberg reported Dish Network accumulated around $21 billion of debt, primarily related to its 5G network build.

Analysts have speculated Dish Wireless faces an uphill climb to a sustainable mobile business, due in part to the cost.

EchoStar stated it retained financial and legal advisers to assist in evaluating potential strategic alternatives, which could include selling some of its spectrum.

Hamid Akhavan, president and CEO of EchoStar, stated the asset allocation enables it “to more optimally position the necessary resources for the execution of its strategic goal of becoming the premier provider of terrestrial mobile, satellite connectivity and content services”.

Recon Analytics founder and analyst Roger Entner told Mobile World Live EchoStar cannot sell some of Dish Network’s spectrum to Verizon, AT&T or T-Mobile US until late 2026, due to a US Department of Justice agreement relating to the operator’s involvement in the acquisition of Sprint by T-Mobile.

“EchoStar needs other people’s money so they have to knock on a lot of doors and potentially sell [spectrum] or get a strategic investor,” Entner said, adding the moves could also include more funds from the debt market.

He described the debt move as “financial engineering”, enabling EchoStar to protect the majority of the company in the event of a default.

In a research note, MoffettNathanson senior MD Craig Moffett stated EchoStar’s moves may be related to a new financing situation “or perhaps a securitisation”, with the “bewilderingly complicated” announcement more about protecting its assets while it seeks additional funding.