EchoStar’s $380 million purchase of Sling Media — whose Slingboxes let people watch their home TV service on any computer by streaming it over the Internet — could help set it apart from TV services from cable companies like Comcast (CMCSA), satellite rival DirecTV (DTV), and new fibre-optic TV offerings from Verizon (VZ) and AT&T (T). But if EchoStar plans to integrate Sling Media’s Slingboxes into its TV service, Sanford Bernstein cable and satellite analyst Craig Moffett says it has a fundamental problem: bandwidth.
Pushing a Slingbox TV signal across the Internet works best with a fat, fast pipe. But when EchoStar hooks up with phone companies to bundle Internet service, it’s usually in the form of relatively slow direct subscriber lines (DSL). “Legacy DSL, which is most commonly paired with [satellite TV services] today, will in many cases be inadequate to deliver a high quality user experience with Sling,” Moffett says today in a client note. Faster Internet service is readily available from cable companies and AT&T and Verizon’s fibre connections, but those companies are much more interested in selling their own digital TV service than sharing a customer with EchoStar.