Charlie Ergen remembers the Alamo

Echostar is quietly invading Mexico, with its Dish Mexico DTH pay-TV operation. Charlie Ergenís Echostar is working in alliance with MVS Comunicaciones, and competing head-to-head with Sky Mexico Ė which has no relationship with Rupert Murdoch, but is controlled by Grupo Televisa, the nationís biggest broadcaster. Mexico is a huge market.

Mexico has a target audience of some 18m pay-TV and the Echostar consortium says it has a clear opportunity in 12m of those homes. First line of attack is an ultra-cheap basic bundle of channels costing just 149 Pesos (about $11) a month, with free installation, free PVR receiver, and including Cinemax free for one year. Second line strength comes from Echostarís agreement with fixed-line telco giant Telmex, backed by billionaire Carlos Slim, to send out Dish Mexicoís bills.

Echostarís Telmex deal gets around a local prohibition that bars them from entering the pay-TV market directly. But Telmex has some major clout. It is already Mexicoís major ISP with an 80% market share, and has a growing IPTV business, and it has a huge retail presence in the country.

Dish Mexico is now active in 10 of Mexicoís largest cities. Echostar will eventually use QuetzSat-1, a satellite owned by SES of Betzdorf (with Mexican partners), but wholly leased to Echostar. QuetzSat-1 will be launched later in 2011. Meanwhile Dish Mexico is using an older Echostar satellite temporarily located at 77 deg West for its service.

"This joint venture between MVS and EchoStar makes it possible for a large sector of Mexico's growing population to receive a popular lineup of all digital television channels at an attractive price," said Charlie Ergen, CEO of EchoStar Corporation. "The opportunity to partner with MVS for a variety of services creates an exciting opportunity for EchoStar as we enter the Mexican market."