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Dish Network Buys Denver-Based Liberty-Bell Phone Company: Start of a New Trend?

Satellite company Dish Network suffers a competitive disadvantage its grounded competition doesn’t — the ability to offer a broadband and phone service package along with a lineup of video channels.

Not anymore.

On Monday, Dish announced its intention to acquire Denver-based Liberty-Bell Telecom, a small telephone company serving 6,000 residential and 4,000 business customers in Colorado, New Mexico and Utah.

The purchase, if approved by the Federal Communications Commission, would give Dish the chance to sell a “triple-play” bundle of telephone, broadband, and satellite-delivered TV channels to Liberty-Bell customers.

Martino

Liberty-Bell was started by a consumer reporter, Tom Martino, currently working for KDVR-TV in Denver and host of the national radio program, The Troubleshooter Show.  The acquisition would deliver a 90 percent stake to Dish.  The phone company has an established reputation for consumer-friendly service, even giving out the personal cell phone number of company owner Nigel Alexander in case customers run into trouble.

The phone company already had an extensive bundling arrangement with Dish, heavily promoting the satellite service as part of its phone and broadband service package.

The move to acquire Liberty-Bell may be Dish’s first foray into developing its own triple-play package to compete with cable and phone companies.  Liberty-Bell delivers service to customers under a wholesale agreement with incumbent provider Qwest and is licensed to provide service to residential and business customers in 10 states.  Theoretically, Liberty-Bell could develop a much larger reach with wholesale agreements with incumbent phone companies around the country, especially with the financial backing by Dish.

That could create opportunities for the satellite company to meet the needs of an increasing number of Americans seeking telecommunications services from a single company.

Dish currently has reseller agreements with other independent phone companies, including Frontier Communications.

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