TAMPA, Fla. — Satellite TV broadcaster and terrestrial wireless operator Dish Network and EchoStar, its sister company focused on broadband services from space, have cleared a key regulatory hurdle in the way of their merger plans.

The Federal Communications Commission gave its blessing Dec. 6 to transfer all of Dish Network’s licenses and authorizations to EchoStar, which would be the surviving entity following the transaction.

The approval is one of the final conditions needed to complete a merger announced around four months ago, Raymond James analyst Rick Prentiss said, putting plans to combine companies already controlled by billionaire Charlie Ergen close to the finish line.

The merger could be wrapped up as soon as this week, Prentiss added, although the companies could push closure to the end of the year to simplify accounting work.

Erik Carlson resigned as chief executive of Dish Network last month to make way for EchoStar CEO Hamid Akhavan.

Dish Network split from EchoStar in 2008 to expand into terrestrial mobile services and online streaming as its satellite TV business started to lose ground to cable competitors. 

The company has been heavily investing in rolling out a 5G network across the United States to diversify revenues amid strained financial resources.

Meanwhile, EchoStar has access to around $2 billion in cash reserves and expects an uptick in broadband subscribers once Jupiter-3, the world’s heaviest commercial communications satellite, comes online in the coming weeks. 

Ergen would own more than 90% of voting stock and about 54% of the equity of the recombined group, the FCC said in a public notice. Therefore, the regulator said there would not be a substantial change of ownership or control of Dish Network’s licenses and authorizations following the deal.

Jason Rainbow writes about satellite telecom, space finance and commercial markets for SpaceNews. He has spent more than a decade covering the global space industry as a business journalist. Previously, he was Group Editor-in-Chief for Finance Information...